Open House Questions

An open house is an excellent opportunity to gather important information about a property. In a recent post we discussed do’s and don’t for open houses. And, we encouraged you to ask the agent questions. Here are suggested questions to ask the listing agent when you are viewing a house. In a future post, we will list suggestions for questions to ask when you are looking at condos.

Please note that MLS listing sheets have data fields for detailed information about each house. It’s a good idea to review the sheet carefully – either in MLS reports you get from your agent, or in the MLS sheet typically provided at an open house. That way, you won’t waste the limited face-to-face time you have with the listing agent asking for information that already you have in writing. The questions listed below are for items that aren’t covered in the standard MLS data fields.

Of course, if you don’t like the house and you wouldn’t consider buying it, no need to ask anything. But, if you go through the house and like it, ask the questions below about the physical condition and the neighborhood. And if you get past all that, and are still interested, ask the agent the suggested questions about the listing (i.e. the marketing and offer process). Knowing more about the listing can help you better position yourself to make an offer on the property that will be accepted, even if there are competing offers.

OPEN HOUSES – DON’Ts and DO’s

Have been looking – for more than a week – to buy a property? Then you probably know how important open houses are to a home search. And, even if you have a buyers’ agent, many times you will likely be on your own at open houses. There are etiquette guidelines for this that your mother probably didn’t teach you. And, if you follow them, you can avoid confusion about how to act at open houses. But, it’s not just a matter or being polite!

Following the guidelines can help you in your search: the seller’s agent may encourage the seller to come to terms with any offer you make because of the good impression you will undoubtedly make on the agent. If you know what to ask and how (see next two future posts), you will be in a better position to take full advantage of the open house to get information about the property and its status. That means that if you are seriously considering buying the property, it will help you position your offer more effectively. And, on the other hand, it may help you to eliminate the property faster than you could otherwise, thereby saving you time and wheel-spinning.

Your Home – price and price reductions

When it comes to pricing a home, or lowering the price of a home eventually, there are some comments and ideas that owners come up with over and over. Let’s look at some of the most popular ones.

Think like a seller – not like an owner

AN OWNER
An owner is someone who has taken a property that s/he liked enough to buy – and turned it into their home. Owners tailored the colors to their taste. Not just the colors, but the floor coverings and window treatments, too. They made room on the walls for photographs of loved ones that they want to look at often. And they’ve made room for the knick-knacks that make them feel good…that bring back fond memories. Maybe they had the time and money to make some fantasy renovations…gold faucets, anyone? When owners shows guests around their home, they point out their favorite things, and perhaps shares a few memories.

A SELLER
Of course, every seller is also an owner. But, the “owner mindset” has to be replaced by a “seller mindset” if owners are to be successful at marketing their property. Owners have to stop thinking of their property as “home sweet home” and start thinking of it simply as a house that is for sale. A house that other people will buy and make into their own “home sweet home”. And once owners start thinking of their house this way, they start to understand what potential buyers see, and they can become effective sellers.

Real Estate Myths: Common Wisdom that isn’t so Wise

Let’s look at two elements of common wisdom that many buyers follow when purchasing a home. One element advises them to eliminate certain houses from consideration. The other, tells them how much to spend. We consider both these elements of common wisdom to be myths!

PROTECTING YOUR HOME WHILE YOU ARE AWAY – 10 THINGS YOU SHOULD NOT DO!

There are a number of systems for protecting your home while you are away. There are alarm systems which are triggered when a door or window is opened, and others that include motion detectors. Either of these systems may have an alarm that makes a lot of noise (similar to a car alarm). Alternatively, either may be monitored by an alarm company, or by you, via your smartphone. They all require a non-trivial initial investment and possible ongoing monthly charges. If you aren’t going to investment in one them, there are still things you can do to protect your home while you are away at minimal cost, or at no cost at all. And even if you have an expensive alarm systems, the tips below will help you avoid some of potential problems that alarms don’t address.

NEW CONSTRUCTION vs. TRADITIONAL HOUSING

In the Boston area there are significant numbers of both new and traditional housing. There is also a hybrid of the two – old houses that have been gut-rehabbed. Understanding the key differences is helpful to buyers, sellers, and owners alike. Buyers can use the understanding to evaluate the trade-offs between the different types of housing. Sellers gain insight into the competition. And owners can use the information to make informed decisions about when, if, and how to invest in upgrades and renovations to their home with an eye towards the ultimate resale value.

Residential Real Estate Taxes in Boston and Nearby Towns

Real estate taxes vary from town to town in the greater Boston Area. We’re going to take a look at Boston Proper and some of the immediately adjacent municipalities to compare the tax rates. But first, we’ll answer some questions about the terminology.

My property appraisal is lower than my purchase price.

When you apply for a mortgage, the bank has a professional appraiser perform an appraisal of the property. The question today is: what if the appraisal comes in lower than the price you have agreed to pay? And the answer, like the answer to many questions, is: “It depends”. Mostly, it depends on what it says in the mortgage contingency that was part of your offer.

For the purposes of this discussion we will use – as an example – that:
– you have agreed to pay $600k for the property.
– the bank will lend you up to 80% of the appraised value – which is standard.