With sale prices and mortgage rates at a low and rents on the increase, more and more people are buying rental properties. While it can be difficult for a new investor to get financing on a property that is not a primary residence, cash buyers, owner-occupants, and those with a history of rental income or sufficient income to qualify for more than one mortgage if necessary, can do very well both in the short term and long term with multi-family homes. Rental income can provide immediate cash flow, while buying at the bottom of the market, particularly a property that has room for improvement, can generate a profit when sold years later.
In Natick, Wellesley, and Newton, the average sale price of a multi-family property increased 8% from an average of $528,000 in 2010 to $571,000 in 2011 (not accounting for sales that could take place during the 23 days left of the year). Still, there are good deals out there, particularly for anyone with the resources to handle a fixer-upper. 36 multi-families are currently on the market in these towns, from 2-family homes to mixed use buildings.
Price per square foot isn't the best, or even close to a complete way to determine the value of an individual home, but it can give a general idea of how much space can be bought for the money in different towns. The following lists the average asking price per square foot in each Metrowest city or town.
Ten single family homes have sold in the past week in Natick and Wellesley for an average of 95% of list prices. Additional information on these properties or on sales in other cities and towns is always available by request.
60 Washington Ave (3 bed Colonial): Sold $215,000
175 Hartford St (3 bed Ranch): Sold $318,125
7 Sheffield Rd (3 bed Ranch): Sold $336,000
7 Larchwood Ln (4 bed Raised Ranch): Sold $476,000
4 Barnesdale Rd (5 bed Colonial): Sold $646,500
20 Apple Ridge Dr (5 bed Colonial): Sold $1,500,000
58 Manor Ave (3 bed Cape): Sold $510,000
54 Bancroft Rd (3 bed Cape): Sold $617,500
52 Livermore Rd (5 bed Colonial): Sold $1,125,000
16 Highgate (5 bed Colonial): Sold $4,575,000
Lots of people have mentioned how interested they are in seeing recent sales, so I'll focus on that a bit more than my regular market updates. If you're interested in any other information or sales for other towns in the area, please email me and I'll get you what you need. Of course, you can always do your own searches here (or if you're on a smart phone, here).
Single family home sales in the last week for a few Metrowest cities and towns (10/17/11-10/24/11) - prices shown are sale prices:
17 Belmore Rd (3 bed Cape): $335,000
12 Oak Knoll (3 bed Ranch): $336,800
22 Elm St (3 bed Colonial): $825,000
40 Whittier Rd (4 bed Colonial): $842,000
50 Woodlawn Ave (4 bed): $1,000,000
56 Temple Rd (4 bed Multi-Level): $1,100,000
81 Maugus Ave (4 bed Contemporary): $1,500,000
37 Garrison Rd (6 bed Colonial): $1,690,000
6 Philbrick Rd (3 bed Colonial): $504,000
12 Roosevelt Rd (3 bed Colonial): $526,000
106 Brookline St (3 bed Cape): $542,000
23 Hemlock Rd (3 bed Cape): $537,000
23 Marcellus Dr (3 bed Colonial): $725,000
186 Lincoln St (3 bed Colonial): $923,000
76 Cotton St (5 bed Colonial): $1,337,000
14 Hazel Ln (4 bed Split): $507,500
672 Chestnut St (5 bed Colonial): $2,040,000
Just when the lawn mowing ended, it's time for leaf blowers and rakes! Here's the important leaf and yard waste pickup info for Natick, Newton, Ashland, and Framingham. You can also drop off your own yard waste, and in most of the other Metrowest towns, it's taken by drop-off only.
Natick: Yard waste will be picked up on Monday, 11/14, for Tuesday’s trash collection day. Yard waste will be picked up on Monday, 11/21, for Wednesday’s trash collection day. Yard waste will be picked up on Monday, 11/28, for Thursday’s trash collection day. Yard waste will be picked up on Monday, 12/5, for Friday’s trash collection day.
Framingham: Leaf pickup will be on regular trash days during the month of November. Brush pickup will be 10/24-10/28 and 11/5-11/9.
Newton: Yard waste pickup will continue through 12/5.
Ashland: Yard waste will be picked up for 6 Mondays from 10/10-11/14.
Here are some of the MANY fun Halloween celebrations going on this month in the Metrowest area. Know of something that isn't listed here? Please add it in a comment and have a safe and happy Halloween!
In addition to overall market data (September Update), it can be interesting to see more specifics on recent sales, especially for those considering buying or selling. Here are Natick and Wellesley's sales in the last week (only single family homes are included here):
25 Virginia Rd (4 bed cape) Sold: $256,500 19 Lacosta Dr (3 bed raised ranch) Sold: $435,000 16 Strawberry Hill Rd (4 bed cape) Sold: $531,000 10 Clover Ln (4 bed split) Sold: $540,000
676 Worcester St (5 bed colonial) Sold: $385,000 389 Worcester St (5 bed colonial) Sold: $515,000 361 Linden St (4 bed garrison) Sold: $655,159 25 Glen Rd (4 bed colonial) Sold: $710,000 30 Oakridge Rd (5 bed colonial) Sold: $820,000
The fall housing market is well underway! Here are the key facts, with comparisons from last month, for Natick, Wellesley, and Newton:
In Natick, there are currently 85 single family homes on the market for an average list price of $599,000. 26 homes have sold in Natick in the past month for an average of $488,500 (up 7% from last month) after 69 days on the market (faster than an average of 95 days last month).
In Wellesley, there are currently 146 single family homes on the market for an average list price of $1,751,000. 16 homes have sold in Wellesley in the past month for an average of $1,170,000 (down 14% from last month) after 99 days on the market (faster than an average of 126 days last month).
In Newton, there are currently 193 single family homes on the market for an average list price of $1,188,000. 52 homes have sold in Newton in the past month for an average of $893,000 (down 2% from last month) after 80 days on the market (slower than an average of 70 days last month).
There is no shortage of addictive real estate reality tv - House Hunters, Flipping Out, Property Virgins, Million Dollar Listing, Selling New York, Flip This House (to name a few!) - but how much from these shows can be applied to real life? Well, some. But here are 5 real estate un-realities that always seem to come up on reality tv:
1. The house should sell at the open house.
Of course, it's great when that happens, and you can get good feedback this way (especially if you're on a show that puts hidden cameras out and you have smelly old carpet in every room). But, most of the time, the home sells after a regular scheduled showing, so don't stress too much if it's not under agreement after the first Sunday it's on the market.
2. To flip a house, your only expenses are the cost of the house plus repairs.
If only the profits shown at the end of these shows were real! They don't usually factor in carrying costs like taxes, insurance, utilities, and interest, closing costs, or commission. It's still possible to do very well but if you're getting any ideas, remember to account for ALL the expenses.
3. You need lots of help, experience, and power tools to stage a home on a budget.
Sure, these things help, but just because you aren't a carpenter and don't have access to one who will work for free doesn't mean you can't make your home look like it should be featured in the Pottery Barn catalogue. Anyone can de-clutter, store too-big furniture, do a halfway decent job painting, and buy fresh flowers. And, don't forget to close the toilet seat.
4. Real estate agents regularly make six-figure commissions.
Shows like Million Dollar Listing and Selling New York show the potential commission agents make from each sale, but what they don't clarify is that the listing agent and buyers' agent split that commission 50/50 and split it again (this amount varies) with their brokerage, and also pay marketing costs. So neither your favorite tv agent nor the one selling your home will be walking away with the whole 5% of the sale price.
5. Buyers are supposed to see three homes and then buy the one of those three that they like the best.
This makes a good structure for a 30 minute show, but it's rarely the case. Some buyers will look for months (and sometimes years) before they find just the right property, and others will make a purchase sight unseen from across the country. Somehow I don't think giving each client three homes to choose from would get me much repeat business.
For when you just can't stop watching, there are SOME parts to these shows that you can believe. The best three:
1. Look at houses similar to yours that have sold recently. Maybe even in person.
If you're selling a house, your agent should give you "comps", or homes that are close to yours in size, condition, and location. This will support the price you list at and give you an idea of features you might need to improve upon. If you're hesitant to just accept a list price - or a list of work to do - go check them out in person and see what you think.
Some shows like Designed to Sell will bring in professionals to do some updating, but they also emphasize the importance of cleaning. If you're selling your home, have it spotless before the first picture is taken. For some who are vacuum-challenged or just don't have time, spend a little cash and hire a cleaning person for a one time clean.
Yes, your kids are adorable, and your wedding pictures are beautiful, but it is true that personal photos will not help prospective buyers envision themselves in your home. So, just for now, pack up the pictures and get ready to hang them at your new home. At the same time, if you're a buyer, it will help if you can try to see past someone else's photos, artwork, and car in the driveway (unless, of course, it's a really nice one).
The following information covers Natick, Wellesley, and Newton for 7/21/11-8/20/11. There haven't been significant price changes since last month, aside from the typical mid-summer slow down, but it remains clear that to avoid a long time on the market, sellers must have their homes priced right and marketed well. In some cases, even in the current market, this leads to a sale price above the listing price in a short period of time.
InNatick, there are currently 91 active single family homes on the market for an average list price of $579,000, having been on the market for an average of 119 days. There are 37 homes under agreement, with an average list price of $496,000. These homes were on the market for an average of 61 days. In the past month, 27 homes sold for an average of $457,000 (list prices averaging $468,000), after 95 days on the market. InWellesley, there are currently 140 active single family homes on the market for an average list price of $1,811,000, having been on the market for an average of 157 days. There are 23 homes under agreement, with an average list price of $1,373,000. These homes were on the market for an average of 104 days. In the past month, 43 homes sold for an average of $1,367,000 (list prices averaging $1,451,000), after 126 days on the market.
In Newton, there are currently 185 active single family homes on the market for an average list price of $1,245,000, having been on the market for an average of 126 days. There are 72 homes under agreement, with an average list price of $981,000. These homes were on the market for an average of 83 days. In the past month, 72 homes sold for an average of $908,000 (list prices averaging $937,000), after 70 days on the market.
Although they aren't included here, condos and multi-family properties are excellent investments right now, as there is a very strong rental market. Owners can benefit from cash flow and tax deductions if they are able to finance the purchase of a rental property.
InNatick, there are currently 92 active single family homes on the market for an average list price of $593,000, having been on the market for an average of 108 days. There are 43 homes under agreement, with an average list price of $498,000. These homes were on the market for an average of 69 days. In the past month, 40 homes sold for an average of $500,000 (list prices averaging $517,000), after 65 days on the market. InWellesley, there are currently 142 active single family homes on the market for an average list price of $1,804,000, having been on the market for an average of 146 days. There are 52 homes under agreement, with an average list price of $1,431,000. These homes were on the market for an average of 99 days. In the past month, 40 homes sold for an average of $1,317,000 (list prices averaging $1,399,000), after 152 days on the market.
Since it's a popsicle time of year, no better time that to borrow some of their bright, vibrant colors to use in your home. Whether in a kids room or to add playfulness to a formal dining area, here are a few favorite whimsical pieces for inspiration.
X-Tile Chair from Casamania - also available as a bench, a collection of these in several colors would add personality to an otherwise formal dining room
Low flamingo stools from Crate & Barrel - these could also be used as side tables or pedestals
Mack Table Lamp, also from Crate & Barrel - a more subtle way to add a splash of color
Mario Brothers wall decals from Blik - I have yet to see any better addition to a game room or finished basement!
To gain an edge in the current real estate market, many homeowners are choosing to improve some aspects of their home. Often, this money can be well spent and will attract buyers who are willing to pay more for the home. In other cases, improvements are too personal or too costly to make much of a difference. Addressing major problems or very dated cosmetic aspects of a home will almost always bring a good return, while building an addition or upgrading things that don't necessarily need fixing could be a waste of money.
Based on Remodeling Magazine's '09-'10 Cost vs Value report, the top five projects for return on investment in New England are:
1. Front door replacement
2. Siding replacement
3. Deck addition
4. Attic bedroom
5. Window replacement
Kitchen remodels were next on the list, and when considering taking on this kind of project, as with others, it is important to compare your home to similar homes in order to create an appealing space without "over-improving". For anyone planning on staying in their homes, they will want to remodel with both themselves and potential buyers in mind, making changes that they will be able to enjoy while they remain in the home, but that aren't overly personal.
In Natick, there are currently 77 active single family homes on the market for an average list price of $621,000, having been on the market for an average of 110 days.
There are 62 homes under agreement, with an average list price of $529,000. These homes were on the market for an average of 65 days.
In the past month, 27 homes sold for an average of $430,000 (list prices averaging $442,000), after 73 days on the market.
In Wellesley, there are currently 138 active single family homes on the market for an average list price of $1,677,000, having been on the market for an average of 133 days.
There are 37 homes under agreement, with an average list price of $1,404,000. These homes were on the market for an average of 150 days.
In the past month, 40 homes sold for an average of $1,145,000 (list prices averaging $1,210,000), after 88 days on the market.
In Newton, there are currently 217 active single family homes on the market for an average list price of $1,282,000, having been on the market for an average of 101 days.
There are 123 homes under agreement, with an average list price of $975,000. These homes were on the market for an average of 63 days.
In the past month, 63 homes sold for an average of $905,000 (list prices averaging $929,000), after 68 days on the market.
Is now a good time to trade up, even if I've lost equity in my current home?
Generally, a buyers' market is a great time to trade up, even when your home has lost value. Here's an example to illustrate why:
A family who bought a home for $350,000 in 2005 at the peak of the market, could have seen their home lose 10% of it's value, selling now for $315,000. The home that they want to trade up to may have been priced at $500,000 in 2005, but assuming it's price also decreased 10%, it would now be worth $450,000. So, while this family would lose $35,000 in value on their first home, they would be getting a discount of $50,000 on the new home form what it would have cost 6 years ago, meaning they would be ahead by $15,000 in the end. And, to further improve the situation, interest rates are almost a full percentage point lower than they were in 2005.
Should I rent for a while to see if prices fall further?
Renting can be a great option if you are planning on staying in an area for less than a year or if you are new to an area and want to determine your favorite towns and neighborhoods before making a commitment. However, if you already know where you want to be and think you'll stay put for more than a year, buying is usually a better option. Even though prices aren't expected to make a big recovery, they also aren't expected to fall significantly further, and by buying now rather than waiting, you'll have more years of tax savings and potential appreciation. Another reason to buy instead of rent: Vacancy rates took the steepest decline in the first few months of this year since 1999 (Rising Rents), meaning fewer options, and rents are increasing. Combined with low interest rates and tax savings, homeowners could actually spend less monthly on a comparable property than renters.
My House Needs Repairs and/or Updating. Should I sell now or stay where I am?
In this case, it is best to stay as long as you need to in order to make some improvements to the home, if at all possible. Buyers are looking for homes that are attractive, move in ready, and don't need any major repairs. If you must sell without addressing flaws, expect to price your home well below market value to attract a buyer willing to fix it up themselves. Even if there isn't much money available to update the home, if you can spend a few weekends on do it yourself projects, there is a lot to be gained when you do sell. While some things require a professional, homeowners can tackle things like paint, landscaping, and small things that can make a big difference, like changing cabinet hardware and clearing out clutter. (Homes with great curb appeal)
The projects that will provide the biggest return? In my experience, kitchen appliances and countertops, light fixtures, paint, bathroom vanities along with replacing outdated tile, and landscaping are the best updates to make. Of course, if there are any problems with the home's structure or major systems, it is important to find the right professionals to take care of the job.
There are lots of great local options if you don't feel like driving far or just have a little time on your hands.
Dug Pond in Natick opens for the season on June 11th. Beach tags are available at the Cole Center until the beach opens, when they can be purchased at the pond. Bathrooms, a playground, and a dock are available, with parking across the street from the beach.
Morse Pond in Wellesley opens June 8th, and beach tags can be purchased online, at the pond office, or at the Parks & Rec department. Several special events will be held at the beach during the summer. It is located at the end of Turner Road.
Crystal Lake in Newton will open June 13th with limited hours, and offers a small beach with lifeguards, bathhouse, and docks.
Of course, if you have the time, there are lots of beautiful beaches within about an hour of the metrowest area.
Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester has lots of white sand, especially when the tide is out. It is very clean and has a small snack bar and bathrooms.
Crane Beach in Ipswich also has beautiful sand and views.Outside showers, a beach store, concessions, and bathrooms are available.
Duxbury Beach is 6 miles long, and parking is less expensive than some of the north shore beaches. It is also a clean sandy beach.
June can be a great time to beat some of the summer crowds and hit the beach early. Remember your sunscreen!
New patio dining set free at closing so you can enjoy summer on a huge deck - perfect for entertaining! Designer selected paint colors, updated bathrooms, 1st floor laundry, heated towel rack, new refrigerator, refinished hardwood floors, finished basement, professional landscaping, newer heating system & water heater, roof heat coils & much more! Spacious, flexible floorplan allows for first floor family room or master suite. One of Holliston's best neighborhoods. Title 5 in hand.
The spring real estate market in the Metrowest area has been gaining momentum, and certainly was not hit as hard as other areas in the first place. But buyers are still taking their time to decide on the perfect house at just the right price. They know that there are great deals out there and want to find them. For sellers, this means doing everything possible to make the home show well; staging, landscaping, and any necessary repairs or updates, or otherwise pricing it accordingly to attract those who truly want a fixer-upper.
Lots of buyers ask about foreclosures and say they are willing to complete the needed renovations. There is not much mystery to finding these properties, as most are listed on MLS (don't pay for a site to provide foreclosure listings - the information is public record anyway). The hard part for many buyers to swallow is the extent of work that many of these homes need, and the fact the they will face competition from offers with no contingencies submitted by investors.
For most buyers, they do have the opportunity to be picky, but will find that a move in ready home may not be priced way below an already low market value; they will likely be doing well with their timing of the market and interest rates alone. So to take advantage of this situation and find a home they love, they may have to be willing to make some small concessions.
And speaking of interest rates financing....
According to an article on www.housingwire.com, mortgage rates are at a new low for 2011, at 4.6% for a 30 year fixed rate loan. The FDIC and the Federal Reserve are proposing a required down payment of 20%, and it would likely take a while for the market to see an effect, however, the impact this could have on first time buyers and on sellers trading up from their starter homes would be very significant.
Food for thought for buyers and sellers before everyone enjoys a sunny Memorial Day weekend!
After a long rainy week, hopefully the sun will make an appearance for the Natick Farmer's Market tomorrow (Saturday 9-1) and for the weekend of events in Wellesley (ending with a parade and fireworks Sunday afternoon and evening)!
If the weather doesn't cooperate, the Natick Library will be holding their book sale over the weekend, and the shops at Linden Square in Wellesley will be holding special events as well.
The Wellesley kitchen tour showcased six beautiful kitchens this year. While pictures were not allowed (please note that none of these photos are from the actual tour), I mentally recorded several favorite features that anyone could incorporate in their kitchen plans.
The backsplash is a great area to be creative, as it does not need to tolerate the wear and tear of counters and floors and is small enough to feature something interesting without it taking over the space. My favorite backsplash was made from 4 inch stainless steel tiles with smaller accents.
This is another opportunity for a small feature that can make a big impression. One home on the tour had beautiful crystal pendant lights over the island that really stood out in an otherwise simple, streamlined kitchen.
For anyone serious about cooking, a pot filler over the stove is not only very convenient, but can also be a beautiful part of the kitchen design.
To have a quick meal or snack, especially for families, bar stools pulled up to a counter make serving very easy. Stools with a brushed stainless finish are lightweight, easy to clean, and fit in perfectly in a kitchen with stainless appliances and hardware.
While a few kitchens featured separate bar counters with wine coolers, one had a beautiful bar in a sparkling black granite with mahogany cabinets that could be closed off entirely behind a floor to ceiling sliding door.
Beautiful colonial in excellent neighborhood and commuting location. Professional landscaping just completed! Features include designer selected paint colors, updated bathrooms, 1st floor laundry area, heated towel rack, new refrigerator, refinished hardwood floors, finished basement, huge deck with sliders, newer heating system & water heater, roof heat coils & much more! Spacious, flexible floorplan w/ possibility for first floor family room or master suite. Title 5 in hand. Must see!
Looking at the last month, from 4/13/11-5/13/11, the spring market, so far, appears to be stronger than last year. Here is the information for each town:
There are currently 81 single family homes on the market, with list prices averaging $611,000.
In the past month, 23 homes have sold for an average of $496,000 compared to the same month last year when 24 homes sold for an average of $459,000.
There are currently 146 single family homes on the market, with list prices averaging $1,752,000.
In the past month, 22 homes have sold for an average of $1,652,000, compared to the same month last year when 26 homes sold for an average of $1,137,000.
There are currently 172 single family homes on the market, with list prices averaging $1,333,000. In the past month, 41 homes have sold for an average of $953,000, compared to the same month last year when 50 homes sold for an average of $779,000.
Open house Sunday 5/1/11 12-4pm
8 Meadowbrook Lane, Holliston
4 bedrooms 2 bathrooms 2410 square feet 2 car garage
Beautiful turn-key Colonial in quiet neighborhood and excellent commuting location. Recent updates include professional painting, updated bathrooms, one with double sinks, new refrigerator, refinished hardwood floors, finished basement with built-ins, newer heating system & water heater, and much more. Huge freshly painted deck with two sliders. Flexible floorplan possibility for first floor family room or master suite. Title 5 in hand. Move right in to your dream home!
This is the About Me on my website. A funny story about the kind of real estate agent I DON'T want to be (although I couldn't pull off this guy's look if I wanted to!).....
When my husband and I were looking for our first house, before realizing the benefits of having a good buyers' agent, we found a listing in a great town for half of what similar homes were selling for. I called the listing agent and asked to see it. He said "Okay. It needs a little work." For the price, a little work was fine with us. A few days later, we pulled up to the house behind a huge, rattling boat of an old car. A high heeled alligator boot emerged from the front door, followed by a huge, tattooed, hairy guy in a wife beater wearing a ten gallon hat. We probably should have taken that as a sign to drive as fast as we could in the other direction, but we followed him up to the house. After opening the door, Alligator Boots (the real estate agent whose real name we never found out) informed us that we probably wouldn't want to go in. Looking inside, we saw a shell of a house which had been completely destroyed inside by a fire. This would have been useful information before we had taken time off of work to come and see it in person since as first time buyers, we thought "a little work" meant changing the countertops (of course, now, this is just the kind of project I would love to take on). We quickly said goodbye to Alligator Boots and countless other real estate agents along the way, who we just didn't click with. Finally we metEd Hughes, who didn't mind spending months with us looking at everything from one bedroom condos to five bedroom single family homes, all within a 30 mile radius of Boston; he even made it fun! We eventually found the right house, and several years later, after getting completely addicted to real estate, I decided it was time to get my license and team up with Ed. I already had a pretty good idea of what not to do, and Ed's expertise and my experience in development and design prepared me for an extremely successful career.
2400 square feet Just under 1/2 acre lot 4 bedrooms with hardwood floors 2 full bathrooms including double vanity and heated towel rack First floor laundry room
Kitchen loaded with cabinets, breakfast bar, and brand new refrigerator Attached two car garage Finished basement with space for playroom and media room First floor family room overlooking deck Fireplaced living room Freshly painted interior and deck New front door Hardwood floors - just refinished - throughout, plus tiled kitchen and baths, and carpeted basement Professional landscaping
Beautiful turn-key colonial in quiet neighborhood and excellent commuting location. Recent updates include professional painting, updated bathrooms, one with double sinks, new refrigerator, refinished hardwood floors, finished basement with built-ins, newer heating system & water heater, and much more. Huge freshly painted deck with two sliders. Flexible floorplan possibility for first floor family room or master suite. Title 5 in hand. Move right in to your dream home!