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What's Happening in the Housing Market in Your Town

The Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR) just released the latest stats for the end of Q2 and it makes very interesting reading for sellers. Across all of our offices we are seeing prices continuing to rise and days on market to fall as a result of the increased demand and limited inventory.  In Acton so far this year, single-family homes are selling for an average of 109.5% of the list price, and in Carlisle, Lincoln and Lexington that number is around 104%. In all towns homes are selling on average over the asking price, compared to last year when single family homes sold for a little under the list price. Days on market have also dropped compared to the first six months of 2020 - Westford has an average of 19 days to sale, Bedford is 37 days and Winchester is 42 days. In Concord the average days on market has halved since June 2020. Available inventory continues to be an issue - as of the end of June there was less than one month’s supply of homes in Acton, Bedford and Westford. For more details on these towns and many others around us, read the full report here.

So for sellers the market still has many positive indicators, but things may be set to change this fall. With the foreclosure moratorium coming to an end in July, and both the mortgage forbearance program and pandemic unemployment assistance ending in September, many are predicting a change in the housing market in the coming months. If you are thinking about selling your home, don’t wait to see what will happen - talk to one of our experienced realtors to get a detailed analysis of the market in your area.

Already decided to sell? Check back for our tips on how to prep your home this summer to be ready for the busy fall market!

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    How to Raise Your Credit Score

    Credit Report Showing Credit ScoreIf you want to get a mortgage from the bank, a good credit score is essential. You should shoot for a 640 if you want to buy a house in Boston, and the higher the score the more options you'll have regarding lenders and interest rates. It is possible to get a loan with a lower score, but it will be more difficult. Several factors go into determining your credit score. FICO credit scores account for payment history (35%), credit usage (30%), age of credit accounts (15%), credit mix (10%), and new credit inquiries (10%). If your score needs improvement, check out our tips below to raise your credit score. 

    Pay Your Bills on Time

    Payment history makes up the largest percentage of your credit score. Make sure you pay your bills on time, like student loans or car payments. Stay organized and on top of your payments and you will be rewarded with a higher credit score!

    Don’t Burn Through Your Credit Line

    Credit utilization is the second most important factor in making up your credit score. Lenders view your credit use as a reflection of how responsible you are with your money. If you have a $5,000 credit line and spend $1,400 of it each month, they will view that more favorably than if you spent $4,800. It’s best to pay your balance in full each month, but if that’s not possible, try to keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit. 

    Keep Old Accounts Open

    The age of your oldest line of credit impacts your score. Keep old accounts open so you are more appealing to lenders. If you have an account with missed payments, resolve them as soon as possible and make sure not to close the account.

    Diversify Your Credit

    Lenders have found that those who have different types of credit accounts, like a car payment, student loans, and a credit card, are not as risky as those without a mix of credit. Handling multiple payments and accounts shows lenders you are responsible. 

    Limit “Hard” Credit Pulls

    Your credit is pulled when someone wants to view it. There are two types of credit pulls, a soft pull and a hard pull. Soft inquiries are when you check your own credit, a potential employer checks your credit, or a similar scenario. Soft pulls do not affect your score. A hard pull is when you apply for a new credit card, mortgage, auto loan, or another form of credit. Several hard pulls in a short period of time are concerning for lenders, so having too many can lower your score. If you’re going to be applying for a mortgage, don’t apply for another form of credit around the same time.

    Want More Tips?

    Contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty to learn more about how to raise your credit score, and what score you’ll need in the Boston real estate market.

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      Movies Under the Stars - Outdoor Movie Night in Your Own Backyard

      One of the most special things about summer is enjoying an outdoor movie. There are several drive-in movie theaters in our area that show current releases and old classics throughout the summer months. Topsfield Drive In, Mendon Twin Drive In and even Milford Drive In Theater in NH are all within an hour’s drive, and offer a program of family favorites such as Back to the Future and The Goonies alongside other summer classics like Jaws. They also show current movies such as the latest in the Fast and Furious franchise. It's a fun night out for all ages.

      However if you prefer to pick your own movie and enjoy your own snacks it's pretty easy to set up your own outdoor movie theater. You can pick up a projector from most of the big box stores which you can connect to your own laptop or device, and then you can broadcast movies from any of the streaming services such as Netflix or Disney Plus. You can also purchase a screen, but a white sheet suspended from a deck or a tree will do just as well. Grab some beach chairs or a beanbag and you are free to create your own special summer memories whenever you like!

      Take a look at some of these homes from Sotheby’s International Realty to inspire your backyard movie theater set-up. Don’t have the perfect spot yet?  Browse our listings for homes with yards just right for movies under the stars.

       
       

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        Find Sanctuary With Your Own Private Hideaway

        The idea of owning your own private island is the stuff of childhood dreams.  Adventure stories and fairy tales often feature the idea of a magical, secluded space, separated by water, where anything can happen. As we grow up and get older, private islands and retreats become the ultimate aspirational home goal, with all the seclusion and luxury that is associated with them. There’s even a whole TV show dedicated to the idea of finding that exclusive piece of island real estate that you can call your own. Now a rare opportunity has opened up for someone to own their own island-like retreat right here in Clinton, MA. 

        Recently featured in the Worcester Telegram35 South Meadow Road in Clinton is a spectacular secluded estate, only 30 miles west of Boston, surrounded by 27 acres of ponds and wetlands. You’ll share your space with eagles, blue herons and swans, plus many magnificent European Beech trees, rhododendrons, and arbors covered in wisteria, honeysuckle and grape vines. The property consists of a main house linked via a conservatory to a guest house, plus an awe-inspiring pool house which will transport you to a tropical paradise! See our listing pages for more details, or read about it in the Worcester Telegram.

        If you are looking for more inspiration, Sotheby’s International Realty has compiled a list of private compounds available across the United States. From a wine country estate in California to a classic Connecticut getaway, these are the homes that turn dreams into reality!

         

         

         

         

         

         

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          Celebrate Independence Day with a Bang! Fireworks and Celebrations Near You.

          4th of July is almost upon us, and after last year’s subdued event we are looking forward to properly celebrating Independence Day. Although the pandemic has still affected some events, several of our favorites are back in action this year, plus there are some new celebrations to add to the calendar. We asked our agents to recommend their favorite 4th of July celebrations and fireworks in local towns - browse the details below before planning your weekend!

           

          Fireworks in Boston - the traditional Hatch Shell celebrations may be off this year, but Boston is putting on not one but two firework shows to make up for it. Head to the harbour area to enjoy Boston Harborfest, the largest Independence Day festival in the USA, which includes fireworks on July 3rd. On July 4th Boston Common is where you’ll want to be to enjoy a spectacular display. If you can’t make it into the city, you can watch the broadcast of the traditional Boston Pops Concert, this year taking place at Tanglewood, which will include footage of the fireworks live.

          4th of July Carnival and Fireworks in Lexington - the annual Lions carnival in Lexington is back for 2021. The fun takes place at Hastings Park from July 1st - 5th, with a fireworks display on July 2nd.

          4th of July Concert and Picnic in Arlington - bring your blanket and a picnic to Robbins Farm Park for an Independence Day celebration!

          Independence Day Community Concert in Chelmsford - part of a series of free outdoor summer concerts, bring chairs or blankets to the town common and enjoy live music from the Community Band as they play their favorite Independence Day pieces.

          Declaration of Independence Recitation in North Andover - relive history at this special free event on North Andover town common. Enjoy live music and readings of historic speeches to mark this special day.


          Other locations to watch the fireworks include Gloucester (Stage Fort Park), Riverside Park in Haverhill, Patriot Place in Foxborough and Polar Park Stadium in Worcester.

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            Pet-Friendly Features for your Next Home

            We are a nation of pet lovers - 67% of American households own a pet, and dogs are the most popular. But how many of us actually considered our pet when choosing our house? You may have thought about whether there was a fenced-in yard, or durable flooring, but did you have a dog bathing station or a central vacuum system on your list of home must-haves?  Many modern homes are incorporating these features, along with energy-efficient pet doors, hidden feeding stations, and perches and platforms for cats to spy on the outside world. Sotheby’s International Realty has found the perfect homes for pet-lovers - browse through this list for inspiration on how to keep your furry friends happy with your next house purchase!

             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
            Pet Bathing Station                                                                       Outdoor Space
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
             
            Fenced-In Yard                                                                              Durable Floors

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              5 Things You Can Do To Sell Your Home Fast in Greater Boston

              Home with Sold SignWe're all starting to recover from the effects of the pandemic, and the real estate market in Greater Boston is experiencing a surge of activity. If you're looking into selling your home in this area, now is a great time! Demand is currently high, and you are very likely to get a worthwhile offer, but how fast it sells depends on you. So how do you even set up for a quick deal? Here are a few helpful tips when selling your home in Greater Boston.

              1. Find a real estate agent.

              It shows great determination to want to get your house on the market on your own. However, an expert guiding hand makes the whole process so much faster and easier for you. Consider selling your home with the help of a Greater Boston-based real estate agent. They understand the state of the local market better than most and will offer insight into what buyers are looking for. On top of this, a real estate company will handle all the paperwork and groundwork to help you list your property as efficiently as possible. It saves you lots of time and much of the hassle to have a professional handle it for you.

              2. Price it well.

              The Greater Boston real estate market may be great for sellers at the moment because the demand for homes is high, however it is still possible to overprice your property with a high asking price. Consult your real estate agent to find out how much your home is worth in the current market, and base your asking price on this value. Make it a competitive amount, or your property may stay on the market longer than expected. You want to attract as many potential buyers as possible.

              3. Pick the right time to sell.

              It is important to remember that the real estate market never stays in the same state for long. Many factors make it fluctuate, and levels of demand and supply are constantly changing. With this in mind, the best time to list your property on the market is when said demand is higher than the number of available properties. That's what you call a seller's market, and it could mean higher offers for your property from multiple buyers competing to purchase it. The opposite of this is a buyer's market, and it means more people are selling their properties at a time when few are looking to buy them. It could force you to lower your asking price. Your real estate agent will help you identify these peak times to help you price your property well and sell it fast. 

              4. Take some time to do repairs and upgrades.

              A home in good condition is far more likely to sell faster than one that isn't. Set aside the resources to get your property ready and carry out necessary repairs. If possible, replace broken tiles, fix cracked floors and patch up any leaks. Consider a fresh coat of paint. Upgrade elements such as fixtures and appliances if your budget allows it, and you may be able to increase your asking price as well. Your goal should be to get your home looking as good as new because plenty of buyers prefer homes that are ready to move into rather than those that need a bit of extra work.

              5. Kick up your curb appeal.

              You want as many potential buyers as possible to visit your home when you list it on the market. This way, you get the best possible offers on your property, increasing your chances of selling it faster. Make your property more inviting to them from the outside by improving your curb appeal. Enhance the appearance of your yard, making it alluring to them when they visit. Cleaning up the environment, adding more plants, and even installing unique features are a few things you can do to improve curb appeal. The best part of this is that you can get a higher offer, just because yours is the better-looking yard!

              At the end of the day, quickly selling your home within the Greater Boston region is very possible. It takes the resourcefulness that goes into fixing your property up to make it more alluring to potential buyers. It also involves having the foresight to consult a local real estate agent to help you along the way. Get in touch with Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty and begin the process of listing your home in the Greater Boston real estate market today.

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                The Boston Suburbs Housing Market - May Round-Up

                The stats for homes sales in May tell a familiar story. Once again, we see prices are up year over year in towns such as Concord, Lexington and Acton. Days on market continue to shrink, and now we are seeing homes with accepted offers in less than a week in Acton, Lincoln, and Westford. Looking at the number of homes sold, figures are down by as much as 50% in Acton and Lincoln, so it’s hardly surprising that market volume is down across the board. It’s not because of a shortage of highly motivated buyers though. We have been tracking the sale price / list price ratio, and it's now well over 100% in many towns, with homes selling for an average of 113% of the list price in Acton last month. The demand is still high for homes in all our towns. There are some signs of hope for buyers though. Inventory is up year over year in Lexington and Winchester - a sign, perhaps, that people are finally ready to make a move after months of putting plans on hold. For sellers though, with prices still rising and demand still high, it really begs the question “what are you waiting for?” 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                  

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                 

                If you want to know the full story behind these numbers, talk to one of our experienced agents.  They can give you detailed information for your neighborhood, advise on the best way to market your home to maximize your value, and talk to you about our services such as Buy Before You Sell, which can make your dream move a reality.

                 

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                  FSBO? Why You Should Say No to Selling Your House Yourself

                  For Sale By Owner SignThe boom in the housing market has got a lot of people thinking about selling their home. Are you one of them? With prices high and demand at a peak, you may be tempted to forego working with an agent and just sell your home yourself. You think, “If there are lines of people outside open houses, multiple offers, and homes going under offer within days, why would I need an agent to sell my home? How hard can it be in a seller’s market?” We take a look at exactly what value your agent brings to the party and bust some of the myths surrounding For Sale By Owner (FSBO) transactions.


                  Money

                  Let’s start with the big one. One of the main reasons owners decide to sell their homes themselves is to save money - believing that in a high-demand market they can sell their home easily and that not having to pay an agent’s commission will mean more money in their pocket at the end of the day. This is one of the biggest misconceptions around FSBO transactions. We took a look at single-family home sales in our towns since the beginning of the year* and what we found may surprise you.

                  • Homes sold by owners reaped 7% less than those sold using an agent (dispelling the idea that a 2 ½ - 5% commission would somehow mean more money in a seller’s pocket at the end of the transaction)

                   

                  • Homes listed with a realtor typically sold for 2% over the asking price as a result of marketing bringing competing offers to the table

                   

                  • Homes sold more quickly, too - the average Days to Offer for homes listed with a realtor is 28, compared to 31 for FSBO homes and …

                   

                  • Digging deeper, homes listed with Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty sold for 4% over list price, and had an accepted offer within just 14 days 

                   

                  Pricing

                  Owners tend to overestimate the value of their home, which is understandable as it holds a lot of emotional as well as monetary value. However, accurate pricing is critical to securing a quick sale - aim too high and your home could sit on the market for longer than average, which can in turn lead to less interest in the home and lower offers.

                  Your agent has access to information that will enable them to price your home competitively to comparable sold properties in the area, making your home an attractive proposition. Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty agents also work collaboratively with their colleagues, often inviting other agents to view the home and give an Opinion of Value. This ensures that the price you agree upon is one that the market can sustain.

                  Also bear in mind that savvy buyers (and their agents) will know that, as a FSBO, you are not paying a commission to a seller’s agent. They may take that into account and make a lower offer than they otherwise might assuming you’d be willing to accept less.

                   

                  Time

                  Many sellers will underestimate the time taken to get your home ready for sale. If you want to get the best price for your home, you need to present it in the best possible light. That means a long to-do list:

                   

                  • You’ll need to clear out clutter, stage, and tackle some of those small repair jobs to make the home present well

                   

                  • You’ll need to take pictures, which typically requires hiring a professional photographer to ensure your home can compete against all the other homes on the market

                   

                  • You’ll need to coordinate showings, which can be extremely time-consuming, especially if you are also working a full-time job and are not available when the buyers are

                   

                  • And, once an offer is accepted, you’ll need to coordinate and provide appraisals, smoke certificates, water readings and more.

                   

                  All these tasks would be taken care of by your agent, whose job it is to oversee the process from beginning to sold. They can advise on small repairs (hiring contractors if necessary), stage your home themselves, arrange (and pay for) photography, attend showings and / or host Open Houses, coordinate with appraisers, chase down permits and complete all final checks and readings before closing.

                   

                  Marketing

                  Marketing matters, and the right marketing brings the biggest benefits. Without full exposure to as many potential buyers as possible, you are unlikely to achieve the true market value for your home. Do you know how to make sure your home is marketed to the widest possible audience? Having a “For Sale” sign in your yard and posting on Facebook is not going to cut it.

                  Realtors have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) for their area, which they use to quickly see which new homes are available and match their buyer’s criteria. If you are not listed in MLS, you will need to find another way to let other Realtors® know about your home. MLS also feeds details to all the major home-search websites, such as Zillow, Realtor, Trulia and Redfin.

                  Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty agents also have their listings on the award-winning Barrettsothebysrealty.com, which ranks highly on Google Search. According to a recent NAR survey, 93% of buyers used the internet to search for their next home and, for 44% of them, this was the first thing they did (before talking to a realtor). If your home is not easily found online, you are going to miss out on a huge swath of potential buyers.

                  Our agents can also provide marketing activities and materials that would cost you a small fortune to do yourself. With access to a large marketing department, our agents can tap into a much broader social media network (with specific interest in real estate) and include your home in print and digital advertising regularly done by Barrett.

                   

                  Cost

                  As already mentioned, to get the best value for your home you need to show it in its best light. That means professional photography, videography, staging, brochures - all of which eats into your profits. Most, if not all, of these costs are typically covered by your agent - and Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty agents bear the upfront cost of these marketing expenditures and more.

                   

                  Liability

                  As part of their ongoing license requirements, realtors undergo training to ensure they are up to date and in compliance with all legislation regarding selling homes, including fair housing law and true representation of the home. A professional Realtor® ensures that your home is accurately described and takes responsibility for liaising with the buyers over any terms of the offer. As the owner, without an agent, that responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders and mistakes could be costly - far more costly than the commission you would pay to your agent.

                  Another downside of FSBO is buyer’s agents may be reluctant to show your home, knowing that they will not be working with a real estate professional on the sale. Not only does it make their job more difficult, they know it could expose their clients to a problematic transaction - a risk they may not want to take. 

                  To do your home justice and secure the best price and terms, trust the sale of your biggest asset to a professional. Contact one of our experienced agents today and let them show you how Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty will work for you.



                   

                  *Source: MLSPin Single Family Homes Listed as Entry Only vs Homes Listed with a Registered Agent / Office in Acton, Bedford, Carlisle, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Westford, Winchester from 01/01/21 to 05/28/21

                   

                   

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                    Memorial Day Weekend Activities Around Boston

                    Memorial Day FlagMemorial Day Weekend is here, and with it the unofficial start to summer! A day to commemorate those who gave their lives for their country, Memorial Day has also become a calendar landmark for the beginning of the summer season. It feels like it’s been a long time coming this year (and it has - the last time Memorial Day fell on the very last day in May was 2010) and we are so ready for it.  Many people are taking the opportunity to travel and visit family and friends, some for the first time since the pandemic. For those of you staying home, there are plenty of places to explore in our local area. City, coast or mountains, we are lucky to have numerous choices right on our doorstep. Here are our top suggestions for fun days out over the long weekend.

                    Boston 

                    Take the opportunity to be a tourist in your own town! The city is opening up and many attractions are now welcoming visitors again. Some restaurants have very cool new outdoor dining areas where you can enjoy a meal in the sunshine (or shelter from the rain). Take a stroll around the waterfront, ride the Greenway carousel or hop on the ferry across to the Harbor Islands. Visit The Lawn on D for games, food and live music. Head to Boston Common and take a moment to pause at the Garden of Flags and reflect on the reason we have Memorial Day. If the weather is not cooperating with outdoor plans, museums and attractions are open for business  - just remember to book your tickets in advance to guarantee entry.

                    Beach

                    Summer means beach! Ok, maybe it’s not quite warm enough for that yet (where’d the sun go??), but a visit to the coast is good for the spirit whatever the weather. The North Shore is easily accessible from points north of Boston - most beaches will open for the season this weekend, meaning bathhouses will be open and lifeguards will be on duty (although you may have to pay for parking). For families, Marblehead has the perfect “playground next to the beach” set up at Devereux Beach, or try Wingaersheek Beach on Cape Ann for long stretches of shallow waters and tidal pools. If you are looking for something beyond sea and sand, head for Rockport for quaint art galleries, Gloucester for the lively fishing port, or Newburyport for shops and restaurants. If antiquing is your thing, be sure to pay a visit to Essex, with over 30 stores each with their own style. Beverly is another pretty coastal town with beaches, cafes and sites of historical interest.

                    Back to Nature

                    The cooler weather this weekend brings perfect hiking conditions, and the three-day weekend gives you plenty of opportunity to spend a few hours or a day exploring nature. We are fortunate to live in an area with plenty of reservation land to explore - the Middlesex Fells in Winchester, Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord and Great Brook Farm State Park in Carlisle are all beauty spots right on our doorstep. If you are feeling more adventurous, the White Mountains of New Hampshire are within a 2 hour drive and offer countless hikes and trails - and with the long weekend, you’ll have plenty of time to recover! Head to Franconia Notch State Park for inspiration. 

                     

                    Whatever you decide to do, we hope you find time to relax and enjoy some downtime. If your weekend plans include house-hunting, be sure to check out our list of Open Houses across Boston and Massachusetts.   

                    With thanks and remembrance for those who sacrificed their lives so we can be free to live ours.

                     

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