Friday, November 16, 2012

Salem Awarded Best Shopping in Massachusetts

This is just one of the many reasons why Salem is the best towns and communities in Massachusetts to buy a home and live. Downtown Salem condominiums go under agreement very quickly after coming on the market, and any property within walking distance of the downtown is in high demand. Combined with easy access to the commuter rail, a bustling waterfront district and a thriving arts community, it's easy to see why it's the destination for everyone people of all ages. 

The city of Salem can now officially be called the best place to shop in 2012. The 15th Annual Retailers Association of Massachusetts 2012 Award of Excellence (RAMAE) for “Best Shopping District” was presented today to Mayor Kimberley Driscoll and to Rinus Oosthoek, the Executive Director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce.
This was the first year an excellence award for the “Best Shopping District” award category was presented. The Retailers Association gave Salem the award for: “The hip, new magic of Salem: its eclectic eateries and charming boutiques, and the fact that over 60 new downtown businesses have opened in the last three years alone. Salem’s bustling farmers market often attracts thousands of customers weekly, and Salem’s restaurant scene is booming. One of the top 20 art museums (soon one of the top10!) in the U.S., the Peabody Essex Museum, is located in downtown Salem, as is the Salem Witch Museum.  Salem Film Festival (all documentary), Spring and Fall Restaurant Week, Salem Jazz & Soul Festival, Salem Gay Pride Parade, Salem First Friday, Salem Maritime Festival, Haunted Happenings (Salem’s fifth season), Mass Poetry Festival, Salem Art Festival , and  Salem’s So Sweet Ice Sculpture Festival are just some of the reasons to visit Salem!”
Also present at the Award Ceremony were Sandy Heaphy, Salem Chamber president and owner of the Kensington Stobart Gallery, and RAM members George Carey (Finz Seafood Restaurant), David McKillop (Rockafellas), Dan Shuman (Salem Cycle), and Mark Leavitt (Salem Car Wash).

The RAM Awards of Excellence were created in 1998 by retail expert Rick Segel, a RAM board member, retail trainer, and distinguished author.  The RAMAES were developed as a way to acknowledge retail excellence in the Commonwealth. Throughout RAMAES history, large and small, new and veteran retailers, and local gems and national players from all corners of the state have been honored and given the recognition they deserve for their involvement in the community and retail industry.
The Retailer’s Association of Massachusetts (RAM) is a statewide trade association with over 3,000 member companies. To learn more about the RAM, the RAMAES, past winners, and/or how to get involved call (617) 523-1900 or go to
The mission of the Salem Chamber of Commerce is to make Salem a better place to live, work, and do business. The Salem Chamber serves as the voice for member businesses, representing, advocating and working to enhance the business and civic environment.  With over 600 members, it is the largest business organization in Salem. For more information about the Salem Chamber, please call 978-744-0004, or visit

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Buyers, Not Sellers at Showings

A delicate subject I sometimes have to approach with clients selling their home is the importance of steering clear of showings and open houses while prospective buyers are touring their home.

It can be touchy. After all, how do you kick someone out of their own house? Many buyers are anxious about the showing and open house process. They feel the need to hover in the wings, which I understand. There are several reasons why this is not the best idea.

Four Reasons Why Owners Sticking Around for a Showing/Open House is a Bad Idea:

1. I've had experiences where prospective buyers have actually passed on a showing once they've found out the current owners were home.

2. It’s important that buyers be able to visualize the home as "theirs already." They need to be able to imagine living in the house, which is pretty tough to do with the owners making a sandwich in the kitchen.

3. Presence of a seller makes the prospective buyer feel guilty for "judging" the home. If the buyer isn't given free range to evaluate the home, the doubt is enough to put them off the property entirely.

4. If all goes well, the buyer may want to stay for a time at the house and chat with the agent. This is a good sign (it means the buyer may be moving towards an offer), but with the seller present, it's all but impossible.

I try not to offend my clients when I ask them to understand these reasons. While I empathize with the nervousness that accompanies the sales process, my goal is the smooth sale of their home. A little space for the prospective buyers is an important ingredient.

Stress-free showings are just one part of my approach to marketing your home to sell. Get in touch and I’d gladly show you what else I can do to get you top dollar for your home - Jim Armstrong 978-394-6736

A Heads Up on Down Payment Gifts

Ready to buy your first home? Have a down payment ready to go? Before you apply for that mortgage, here’s something you should know about disclosing the source of your down payment.

Q: Part of my down payment was a gift from my parents. How will this impact my mortgage application?

A: It depends on the type of mortgage you’re applying for.

You should be prepared to explain your gift with documentation. While FHA loans typically will permit a down payment from a family source, your more conventional mortgage will expect at least 5% of the funds to have come from you.

One of the keys to ensuring this process goes smoothly is having documentation to back up your claim. Bank statements showing the source of the money (and when you received it) are a good place to start, along with a letter signed from your generous benefactor declaring the gift.

As a rule, you should be careful of any large deposits to your account (besides your regular pay).

I urge you to talk to a mortgage professional for complete details as they pertain to your specific situation.

Need a referral to a qualified mortgage broker? I’d be glad to share with you the names of people I know and trust. Contact me today for a referral: Jim Armstrong - 978-394-6736

Don't Count on Election to Boost Housing

The last economic data to be released before the election has given no advantage to either candidate. We did pick up171,000 jobs in October, a little better than forecast, and revised up another 84,000 in prior months.
However, the average workweek was unchanged for the fourth month in a row, and hourly earnings fell slightly, over the last year rising only 1.6 percent. "U-6" -- the measure of unemployment including "involuntary part-time" -- is still 14.6 percent.
On net a brighter sign than the jobs report: the ISM survey of manufacturing in October crawled 0.2 further into positive ground at 51.7.
Markets are flat, I think suppressed more by the election than anything, although stocks are clearly hurt by diminished earnings. Foreign action has also been muted and deferred by our election, especially in Europe.
So, Wednesday morning -- assuming we know the election results by then -- how will events and markets break from months of unnatural quiet?
1. We'll know by then. The 2000 election was a coin toss like this one, but the damned thing won't land on its edge again ... not twice in four tries.
See the rest of the article at Inman News: