Massachusetts Real Estate Market

Do You See What I See?

My 87-year-old mom is a fan of HGTV. She has always followed the real-estate market and she loves home decorating. But she is hurt by the reactions of young home buyers on HGTV who complain that a house's decor is dated. Sometimes they even guffaw or scoff at a home's yellow printed wallpaper in the kitchen or the dark wood cabinets. To my mom these TV house hunters seem callous, unimaginative, and a bit spoiled. "I've lived my whole life without a walk-in closet," she sighs. "What do these newlyweds expect?"

Now admittedly, I myself would react poorly to seeing bathroom wallpaper done in foil sprinkled with 1970s-era lady bugs. On the other hand, once the world tears out every example of 1970s foil wallpaper, mark my words you will see its comeback featured in Architectural Digest as the latest in edgy sophistication.

So here is some advice for both older sellers and to younger buyers faced with a "dated" home decor:

Advice to sellers: Remember the choices you made when you first bought your home. It was exciting to pick out the furniture or decorate the front hall. Maybe twenty years later, you still enjoy those decisions. So accept that the next family will want to personalize their home too. That is why your real estate agent says to take down the family photos or artwork that is very specific to your taste. You may even be asked to remove or paint over wallpaper to neutralize it. You may be asked to take out wall-to-wall carpeting. You may think that this stripped down version of your house lacks warmth, but it leaves room for potential buyers to visualize their personal belongings in the space.

Buyers may be forgiving of older decor but they aren't forgiving of shabby elements. It makes the home appear uncared for. Even if your kitchen is old, make sure the cabinets and drawers work properly and that there is no peeling paint or obvious staining on walls or ceilings.

A special note for original owners of mid-century modern homes: The good news is that your style of home is extremely appealing to younger home buyers. They appreciate the open, airy spaces and strong architectural design. In fact, the style is so in vogue that these new enthusiasts may expect streamlined perfection in the decor. Your family's antique platform rocker in the living room could be jarring to their vision. If you own such a home, less really is more. Don't be offended if your agent suggests removing a lot of furniture, wall decorations, and rugs. The strength of your home is its architecture.

Advice to buyers: Don't fret about what is often a cosmetic spruce up. Look at the bones of the house, not the furniture. If you hate the paint colors or the wallpaper, just rationalize the work of changing it by telling yourself that you will get to know every square inch of your new home intimately through scraping and painting. If there are pricey elements that are out of date, such as the kitchen and baths, realize that the asking price likely reflects that fact. If you hate a pink bathroom, focus on the space itself, the potential for change, and the choices you will make. And don't decide to change things too quickly. You may actually come to respect those vintage pink fixtures. What goes around, comes around.

Advice to Listing Agents: Work with your older homeowner to explain that staging helps make the home appealing to the widest variety of buyers. For example, hotel decor is generally pleasant and not too specific in taste. Then it is up to the next owner to add their personality.

Lyn Spaeth, principal of Transformations, a staging company located in Lincoln, MA, also points out an important fact: Older homeowners don't realize that their home is often first viewed on photos on the internet. If the interior looks dark or cluttered, buyers won't even make an appointment for a viewing. The goals is to sell space, light, and architectural features and the photos need to highlight those three things.

Advice to Buyer Agents: Let the buyers experience the home but don't let them get hung up on criticizing things that can be easily updated. For example, point out that a dated bathroom may have good potential to be expanded or that its copper pipes are top quality and not easily replicated today. The truth is it is a buyer's market and what they want is what they can probably get. But don't misread all the young buyers. You may find that a home that reminds them of their happy childhood is exactly what they are yearning for.

Ranch Dressing

The ranch home has a hard time in New England, primarily because it has no connection to the region's much-cherished Colonial past. But like the rest of the country, New England has its share of post-war ranch homes. Of the over 28,000 homes currently listed for sale in Massachusetts, 17% are identified as ranch style compared to 41% identified as Colonial style. Ranch homes were built in the late 1940s to the early 1970s. The style started in California, and by 1950 nine out of 10 newly built houses were "ranch-types."

Architectural historians have made jokes like, "I'll die if they start trying to preserve ranch-style homes." Well guess what? That day is here. Ranch homes are an American architectural form, and appreciation is growing. Check out Atomic Ranch magazine to see true fan enthusiasm.

The ranches generating negative reactions are likely the tiny post-war houses that many of us grew up in. Sometimes they are derogatively called Ranch Burgers. I was raised in a 980-square-foot, three-bedroom brick ranch in Michigan. Attention current real estate agents: try proposing that housing option to a family with four children. But our ranch-type house represented normal middle-class living in the 1960s. (My parents did add on in the 1970s, but just like many additions, the extra space was added after two kids had already left for college.)

So why the passions for and against the ranch? Like every other house style, ranches have good points and bad points but much of that depends on what you are used to and whether you are a first-time homebuyer or an empty nester.

A ranch is the perfect starter home for a young couple. Imagine coming from a city apartment and having your own beautiful, mature yard and efficient space to accommodate all of your activities, including a huge basement for hobbies or entertaining.

Older homebuyers, or those with disabilities, also appreciate ranches. First-floor bedrooms are essential for many people or simply sought after for their convenience. Affordability in a mature neighborhood has wonderful appeal to first-timer buyers as well as empty nesters.

The rambler is another name for a ranch and it connotes a sprawling custom ranch. The mid-century modern lovers like our California couple house hunting in the Boston area would gobble up a rambler. Because these ranches sprawl, they usually have a large lot to go with them. Lots of glass and retro features add modern appeal.

The large ranch or rambler is appealing to discerning buyers, if they either seek mid-century design or don't respond to "traditional" architecture. Many of these buyers would say that a Colonial is boring. And going up and down stairs is just a pain.

So give the ranch its due and take a fresh look. A open, airy rambler could be the answer to a family's dream. A neighborhood of small ranches could be just the thing for the cost-conscious buyer, proving the adage, "what's old is new again."

Announcing Barrett Sotheby's International Realty

Barrett & Company Real Estate is thrilled to be the newest member of Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates luxury real estate network and will operate as Barrett Sotheby's International Realty effective May 15, 2013.

Welcome Home - barrettsothebysrealty.com

"With over 35 years of proven success as local market leaders, Laurie Cadigan and her team have high levels of experience and community knowledge," said Philip White, president and chief executive officer, Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC. "Their commitment to client service and support is unparalleled, as is their focus on providing guidance with a consultative approach."

According to Cadigan, her team prides itself on their in-depth market and community knowledge. "The availability of our onsite owner, marketing department, social media team and relocation director are unique in our market area," she said. "Our custom marketing plans, programs and collateral for each property help bring our seller clients maximum exposure and results for their real estate goals. We are proud to represent the Boston suburban towns with some of the finest school systems and highest property values, and look forward to the added exposure and support this brand will bring. With its global reach, the Sotheby's International Realty brand will help us connect with consumers from all over the world."

The Sotheby's International Realty® network currently has more than 13,000 sales associates located in approximately 660 offices in 49 countries and territories worldwide. Barrett Sotheby's International Realty listings will be marketed on the http://sothebysrealty.com global website. In addition to the referral opportunities and widened exposure generated from this source, the firm's brokers and clients will benefit from an association with the Sotheby's auction house and worldwide Sotheby's International Realty marketing programs. Each office is independently owned and operated.

Barrett SIR Staff Attend Orientation

Orientation

Recently Barrett Sotheby's International Realty Owner and CEO Laurie Cadigan and staff members Linda Fabrizio, Administrator; Diane Gilson, Advertising Director; and Sue Leone, Office Manager participated in an orientation conference held for companies that have recently joined the Sotheby's International Realty® network of residential real estate brokerages.

Philip White, President and CEO, Sotheby's International Realty Affiliates LLC said, "Our luxury network helps connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world. Our orientation program helps our network's brokers effectively use the exclusive line of Sotheby's International Realty products to better serve their clients' needs."

The orientation conference included business meetings in Short Hills, NJ, highlighting the exclusive Sotheby's International Realty marketing, advertising and referral services that are designed to attract well-qualified buyers to Barrett SIR's property listings. In addition, a networking event at the Sotheby's Auction House in New York City emphasized the unique ability to refer real estate clientele to the auction house for appraisal services for jewelry, art, antique furniture and collectibles.

"Our visit to the Sotheby's Auction House and Real Estate Center in Manhattan highlighted the opportunity we have to target our marketing to a coveted audience worldwide," said Laurie Cadigan.

Around the Town: Hollywood Comes to Concord

Filming in Concord

As Concordians may have noticed, downtown Concord, Massachusetts was recently buzzing with much activity. Walden Street from Hubbard Street to Main Street and from Keyes Road to Monument Circle was closed down on Wednesday, April 2, 2014 for the shooting of a movie scene. Tumbledown, starring Jason Sudeikis and Rebecca Hall is a comedy-romance slated to come out in late 2014 about a wife who loses her husband, a famous folk singer, and a New York writer who makes her confront, not just her loss, but the uncertain circumstances surrounding his death.

The company responsible for the production of the movie is based out of Devens, Massachusetts and they have been using several towns in Massachusetts, such as Princeton and Concord, to shoot scenes for the movie. Rumor has it many of the cast and crew were spotted getting a delicious treat from Haute Coffee, shopping at local establishments and taking in the quintessential sights Concord has to offer.

Barrett SIR Hosts New England Regional Affiliates Meeting

Sotheby's Realty Regional

Barrett Sotheby's International Realty recently hosted a regional meeting in Concord Massachusetts for the Northeast affiliates of Sotheby's International Realty® (SIR). The meeting featured several sponsorship informational sessions from local real estate related businesses, as well as a guest Q&A panel of experienced agents and was aimed to strengthen the connections between the affiliates in attendance: Gibson Sotheby's International Realty of Boston MA; Gustave White Sotheby's International Realty of Newport RI; Home Center Sotheby's International Realty of Hingham and Cohasset MA; Karp Liberman & Kern Sotheby's International Realty of Newton MA; Legacy Properties Sotheby's International Realty of Maine; Macdonald & Wood Sotheby's International Realty of Duxbury MA; Mathieu Newton Sotheby's International Realty of Westborough MA; oldCape Sotheby's International Realty of Brewster MA; Tate and Foss Sotheby's International Realty of Rye NH; Vermont Country Properties Sotheby's International Realty of Vermont and Waterfield Sotheby's International Realty of Winchester MA.

Highlights of the informational sessions included a presentation given by Tony Dolceamore, Vice President of Affiliate Services at Sotheby's International Realty® showcasing the power of presentation behind the SIR branded "Anthology" app for the iPad; Jack Huntress of homebinder.com, a website content management system which allows homeowners to store important information such as favorite contractors, a home inventory, as well as reminders for routine maintenance. An overview of current mortgages from Meredith Spence a Home Mortgage Consultant for Wells Fargo, as well as a wonderful outline of the services offered by Gentle Giant Moving Company rounded out the event.