Thursday, August 30, 2012

Title Problems That Can Kill Your Real Estate Closing|deed,appraiser

by Daniel Doran

There is a poster I keep in my office entitled “The real estate closing”, and it’s made up of three panels. The first panel has all of the participants in the closing sitting straight up in an orderly fashion in a rowboat with oars ready to get started. The appraiser, the lender, the real estate agents, the surveyor, etc are all there. The title closer is at the front of the boat with a megaphone and says “We’re all ready now. Start the closing.”

 The next panel shows everyone in the boat paddling hard in all different directions. The last panel shows them thrown all over the boat, hanging over the sides with the oars sticking up at all different angles and the title closer saying into the megaphone. “What time is good to reschedule?” Unfortunately this poster, while humorous, is all too often accurate. There are so many things that have to line up just right to have a successful real estate closing. One of the main things is getting clear title. Here are two of the most common title problems that can kill your deal.

To see the rest of the article, go to:

Three Ways to Give Energy Savings the Green Light in Your Home

ARA) – “Red means stop, green means go” – we learn that axiom as children. When it comes to home energy costs, however, going green can help homeowners put a stop to runaway utility bills. And maximizing your home’s use of natural light – call it “green lighting” – is a great way to boost your home’s energy efficiency.
Here are three ways you can put Mother Nature to work, and use natural light to lower your energy costs:

Minimize use of artificial lighting
Anyone who’s ever paid an electrical bill knows that the simple act of turning on a light can directly impact your monthly expenses. Homeowners looking for a long-term way to power down their lighting costs may consider Energy Star-qualified skylights a good investment. While skylights' cosmetic appeal can’t be argued, their value goes far beyond good looks.

By admitting natural light into your home, skylights can help reduce use of artificial light sources – and help you save on electricity costs. Pair powered venting skylights that come with automatic rain sensors with efficiency-enhancing accessories like designer blinds (available in a varied palette of colors and patterns), and you can improve energy efficiency as much as 37 percent, according to skylight manufacturer Velux America. And, with tubular products like Sun Tunnel skylights, you can even bring natural light into ground-floor rooms or spots where a traditional skylight may not work, such as a first-floor powder room, hallways, or walk-in closets.

Reduce hot water costs
Long gone are the days when solar powering your home was an idealistic, but impractical dream. Solar technology is more useful, accessible and cost-effective than ever. Solar water heating systems are becoming mainstream, and offer homeowners a great, green way to trim energy costs. What’s more, the cost of installing these systems has been steadily declining as the technology advances, and you may find adding one makes you eligible for tax credits or incentives from your local, state or the federal governments. You can calculate the costs and possible paybacks online at

Make home a healthier place
Every year, ill health costs the U.S. economy billions of dollars, experts say, and your own health woes can have a significant impact on your pocketbook. The health benefits of natural light are well-documented, from reducing the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and promoting the body’s production of Vitamin D, to improving mood and even learning ability.
Simply opening blinds and curtains to admit more natural light can directly affect the mood inside your home – not to mention the mental state of the people living in it. Take your green lighting efforts to a higher level by adding venting skylights, and you can also help improve the air quality inside your home. While skylights admit ample natural light, their natural chimney effect works with your windows to bring in and circulate much more healthful fresh air. They also passively vent fumes and dampness that can lead to mold and mildew.
By incorporating natural light and passive ventilation into their home decor and improvements, homeowners can put the brakes on rising utility costs – and give the green light to energy savings.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Price Gains Lift 400,000 Homes Above Water

Home price increases helped more homeowners regain some equity in their homes during the second quarter, according to an analysis by Zillow.

Massachusetts Homes Getting Above WaterZillow's Negative Equity Report estimates that 30.9 percent of homeowners with mortgages owed more than their homes were worth at the end of June, down from 31.4 percent at the end of March. That translates into 15.3 million underwater homes -- about 400,000 less than three months before.

The report -- which compares Zillow's automated home valuation "Zestimates" for individual homes with actual mortgage loan balance data from TransUnion -- showed all but one of the 30 largest markets tracked by Zillow saw a quarter-over-quarter improvement in their negative equity rate.

In the Boston area, the percentage of homes under water was significantly less than the national average, with only 19.6% of homeowners having negative equity. That's down from 22% at the end of the 1st quarter of 2012. That means over 80% of people have equity in their homes in this area - great news if you are planning on selling your home soon.

See the entire article at:
Price gains lift 400,000 homes above water | Inman News

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Price Your Home to Sell Quickly

If home lacks features of recent comps, it's time to subtract value.

A first-quarter survey of homebuyers and sellers done by, a real estate services website, revealed that 76 percent of homeowners believe their home is worth more than the list price recommended by their real estate agent.

Homebuyers usually have a better grasp of current market value in the area where they're looking to buy than do sellers who own and live there. Buyers look at a lot of new listings. They make offers, know what sells quickly and for how much, and what doesn't and why. HomeGain reported that homebuyers still think sellers are overpricing their homes.

Your home is worth what a buyer will pay for it given current market conditions. This may not be the same as your opinion of what your home will sell for, or what you hope it's worth. Relying on emotion rather than logic when selecting a list price can lead to disappointing results.

The prime opportunity for selling a home is when it's new on the market. This is when it is most marketable. Buyers wait for the new listings. Usually, listings receive the most showings and have the busiest open houses during the first couple of weeks they are on the market.

The rest of the article continues here:
Price your house to sell quickly | Inman News

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tips For a Relocation Visit

Are you considering a move to a new city? Maybe you’re trying to make the choice between two or three potential options. If so, how you visit your future home can have a dramatic impact on which one makes the final cut.

By making a few subtle shifts in how you prepare for your visit (and how you spend your time while you’re in town), you can gain more useful insight into the community.

Tip 1: Stay a week if possible
While a long weekend might be your only shot, you can get a much better perspective on a place if you have enough time to unwind. A mix of weekdays and a weekend is a great way to get a view of the rhythm of the town. If you have a long time to plan, visit the place in Summer versus Winter, too.

Tip 2: Rent an apartment or house
A family living in a hotel is expensive and automatically puts you “outside” the community. With a little more room and the facilities of a real living space, you’ll get a better sense of what it might be like to “really be there.” Plus, avoiding the hotel will keep you off tourist-trap areas and hopefully away from major highways.

Tip 3: Explore some on foot
Driving aimlessly can be a good “survey” technique (and indeed, getting lost is a good idea, too), but walking neighborhoods and downtown districts will give you a vivid sense of the community.

Tip 4: Get the local low-down
Before you go, find friends-of-friends on Facebook and other social media sites who can give you an idea of the must-see places that locals love. Use this list as your guide, not the tourism brochures.

Tip 5: Pay attention to what matters to YOU
Remember: You’re the one thinking of living there. Don’t let what others see as the main benefit to the town be what guides your decision to live there. Go with your gut, your values, and your comfort level!

By the way, I’m glad to help you sell your home prior to the move, or refer you to a trusted agent in your destination city. Just get in touch! - Jim Armstrong 978-394-6736 

Thursday, August 02, 2012

City of Boston Changes Smoke Certification Rules

As of August 1, 2012, the City of Boston will no longer provide smoke certificates for any property built after 1975, or for any property regardless of age that contains 6 or more units. The reasoning they use is that in 1975 all new construction was required to have hard wired smoke detectors. You can see the regulations below. 

The state law actually does not require properties built after 1975 to be inspected before being sold. I was unaware of that, and was always told (by fire department officials and others) that Mass state law required all residential properties to have a smoke cert when transferring ownership. You learn something new every day in this business. The Boston Fire Department will still inspect all properties for carbon monoxide detectors, but will issue a certificate that only says CO was checked, not smokes. If they happen to observe something wrong with the smoke detectors while they are there inspecting the CO's they will issue an abatement (whatever that is???!!!)

How does this affect real estate agents in Salem and on the north shore? Well, it really doesn't unless you are listing a residential property in Boston. But how many cities and town will follow Boston's lead? The other issue is that all lenders require a smoke certificate at closing. You will have a CO cert., but the City of Boston says if the lender requires a smoke cert. they will not issue it and you will have to get it through a third party.

The smoke detector laws are complicated enough with the requirements of the correct placement of ionization, photoelectric and dual technology units, and especially when you take into consideration the variances in the requirements between the different towns. It could just get a little more tedious now if the northshore Massachusetts towns adopt Boston's rules.

Jim Armstrong

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Home values rise for the first time in five years

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Home prices hit a bottom and are finally bouncing back, according to an industry report released Tuesday.
Nationwide, home values rose 0.2% year-over-year to a median $149,300 during the second quarter, the first annual increase since 2007, real estate listing site Zillow reported. Prices were up 2.1% from the first quarter.

See the rest of the article at: Home values rise for the first time in five years - Jul. 24, 2012