It’s no secret at a certain price point ( under $400k) in many Essex county communities (Gloucester, Rockport, Beverly, Danvers, Salem, Essex, Ipswich and Peabody), buying a home has become quite competitive. Purchasing real estate in 2013 has its own level of “March Madness“. There are 20, 40 or 60+ people viewing well priced properties at open house(s). There are multiple offers and yes people are paying above asking price. Every house? No, just homes priced appropriately for their age, condition, location and size. Buyers are not offering crazy amounts of money because we all know at the end of the day it must appraise, since most purchases are contingent on buyers receiving a mortgage.
So what will tip the scales in the favor of your offer being accepted, if you are a buyer ? There are four practices I use with consistent success when I know there is a chance that there will be multiple offers.
1) View the house and make the offer ASAP. The early bird gets the worm. Yes it may be inconvenient and you may have to cancel a previous appointment to go view a house. Sorry, this is about getting the house you want, not living a balanced life.
2) Offer asking price at a minimum. If you know potentially there will be multiple offers, forget about “stealing” a property. You like the house, you want it, now get it! Offer above asking to a level your agent or lender feels it will appraise at (and you are pre approved for).
3) Have your agent write the “magic letter”. People like to do business with people they know and like. Share with the buyers how much you like their house. Compliment them about their decorating or cleanliness. Find out what is motivating the sellers to sell and speak to that. Be real and be personal. Don’t laugh this works, I have had several clients achieve their home in a competitive situation because the sellers felt like they knew them and liked them after reading the “magic letter”.
4) Last but not least, always ask the sellers agent for a final and last opportunity to submit a final bid if there are multiple offers. Don’t assume that the list agent will automatically give everyone a chance to rebid; they may not. If a buyer does not want to offer more, they don’t have to, but at least they have the opportunity to make up their own mind about their final bid.
When my clients were looking for a home nearly 7(!) years ago, it was all I could do to get them in the front door of this “plain Jane” home. However, once inside the front door, they were pleasantly surprised! or should I say shocked The home sparkles…it is full of light and it exactly what they were looking for: open living spaces, a large, updated kitchen (nice cabinets with dovetail drawers!), granite countertops and hardwood floors. The 3 bedrooms were a “must have” and the updated bath(s) were another pleasant surprise. The 2 car garage and the finished basement, again, were icing on the cake after walking through the open, spacious and modern first floor.
Turns out this house has been perfect for them-they love to entertain their family around a big meal and a sports event (Red Sox, Patriots!) on TV… the way the dining room sets up to the kitchen and living room is perfect for their lifestyle. The fireplace in the living room and central air conditioning have been much coveted, adding ambiance and comfort, year round. The location has been sweet too, since one of the owners commutes to Salem and the other owner needs to access Rt.128 5 or 6 days a week. Reluctantly, they leave their enjoyable home to be closer to their true love, which is their family.
I had my first visit to the Christopher Cutler Rich Shelter in Gloucester MA this week. I was amazed to learn of the thought that goes into the design of the condos for the cats! They prefer a room with a view – to better observe the wildlife at the great outdoors (!) at 4 Paws Lane, such as birds. They also thrive in designs (such as you see here), where their food is kept separate from their play and rest quarters. The divided areas offer privacy when their condo is being cleaned or food and water delivered. The two levels also offer an excuse for some cat stretching and jumping activity. I learned a lot on my tour by Rebecca Bayliss not only about the cat areas but the entire shelter. I think one fact that really impressed me was that when animals are being quarantined either because they are a new arrival or they are sick, the air in the quarantined area is also totally isolated from the air in the other rooms! Like all non profits, the Christopher Cutler Rich Animal Shelter is constantly looking for ways to fund their work and although the cat condos are not for sale, the naming rights are!
A walk score of 92…this is a walkers paradise! This condo is so conveniently located in Gloucester you can “roll” out the door and get to lots and lots of locations! The train, the MAC, Shaws groceries, the Rumline, Gloucester Depot...the list goes on and on and then there is the 5 minute walk to Main Street stores and restaurants! The Gloucester harbor and Pavillion Beach (great beach for seaglass!) is a ten minute walk away. In an elevator building; it is in excellent condition; lovely finishes and an open living space. I love this location – because I love to walk in Gloucester.
Location, location location is the age old axiom of advice when purchasing real estate. It is still excellent advice. But condition, condition, condition is definitely giving it a run for the money and I do mean money. Todays buyers are placing a premium on the condition of a property for many reasons:
1. Buyers may not have excess cash for renovations/updates.
2. Buyers can be overwhelmed by the thought of finding reputable contractors.
3. Buyers may not have the time and patience for home projects (general contracting).
4. Not all buyers have vision when renovations are required.
Todays buyers are placing a premium on the condition of the property. When sellers are preparing their home to go on the market I encourage them to “tie up all the loose ends”; no project or detail should be left undone. Clean as though there is no tomorrow if you want people to purchase your property at top dollar. People just plain like the way clean smells, never mind the way it looks!
Think about it this way if you are wondering what to do when preparing your home for sale. A home is most people’s largest ever purchase; it requires most of us to be employed at a job in order to make this purchase possible. So to most buyers it doesn’t make sense to purchase a new home that is itself a “project” or a “job”. At the end of the day, most people only want one job and not one they have to pay a mortgage on! No they are not overlooking the location, but good condition, condition condition can be a very strong persuader and can overcome other objections a buyer may have.
Walk score is becoming a new way that people evaluate a property’s location. It is a value from 1 to 100 and the higher the number the more conveniences or things there are to do within about a 15 minute stroll 0r a quarter mile. More and more people have come to value the healthy aspects of walking as exercise. Dogs which require frequent walking have become a bigger part of family and singles (!) lifestyle. Americans are happily parking their cars, saving money by not purchasing gas and supporting small neighborhood businesses that are in their own neighborhood. As more and more people return to an urban setting or a neighborhood style of living, local business creativity is booming especially in the eateries and coffee shop arenas. It is no secret that commuting is no fun, drinking and driving is not an option and most of us would prefer to remain in our own towns or neighborhoods. The more people interact with each other and become familiar with their neighbors the safer and more pleasant an area becomes! Passers by and acquaintances become friends. Nods become smiles. and before you know it a street or 2 or 3 is a neighborhood full of familiar faces! If this sounds like something you value when you home hunt be sure and evaluate the “walk score” as you consider, location, location, location!
The popularity of video on the internet is undeniable! Can you say You tube? Two recent stats worth mentioning regarding real estate consumers are: 87% of real estate consumers prefer their content in video and 78% of real estate internet viewers are more likely to stay on a website offering video. These are big numbers in support of this style of marketing.Would you like buyers to tour your home from the comfort of their own home or as soon as your house is listed? Real estate video does it for you….the real thing, not slides stitched together! Real estate video allows the consumer to feel the way a house lives or lays out. It is a first showing, which can happen almost instantaneously. How nice & easy for all involved! Sometimes I film my own with the support of an outside service (HDHat) and sometimes I go straight to one of the founding fathers of real estate video, Fred Light from Nashua Video Tours. Listen to Fred (above) speak about real real estate video! And below is an example of how compelling video is:
Heading “ova the bridge” for a fall shopping trip I went to the new location (24 Front St., Salem MA) of an old favorite, Avalanche. I “found” (through a word of mouth tip) this old favorite years ago when they were located in their own factory where they manufactured what they sold, in Lynn. Originally Avalanche specialized in “fleece wear” clothes but over the years have branched out to many high tech athletic performance fabrics in their clothes. The “outlet” store in Lynn sold samples and over runs from production for yes…famous name brands! The good news is even though their location has changed the prices haven’t and even better they have expanded their product line from strictly out door wear to indoor wear (men, women’s & children), including some really unique indoor kids clothes! Oh yeah and don’t forget the chic dog collars either! Being perpetually cold it seems, this is a “must go” stop for me and my holiday shopping. Nearly forgot to mention, the “owners” actually work in the store and the customer service is excellent – what a nice change from big box shopping Love supporting small business owners!