What Makes the Real Estate Industry Alluring?

The real estate industry is a firmly rooted industry that has an overabundance of employment opportunities. The market is not only a good place to earn and make good money, but can also be a worthwhile investment that can be penetrated with ample connections and a lot of know-how.

There are a lot of great opportunities when going for a real estate career. Not only will it be gratifying, but can also be highly rewarding for those who want to make it their full time jobs. Unlike any other business where you are expected to do things on your own, being in the real estate industry means that you have to build a solid network of connections because you are expected to create strong relationships. You need to get businesses, sell properties from residential to commercial, and many other jobs that are related to the industry.

You Take Charge of Your Growth

One important aspect why the real estate industry is alluring is because you take charge of your business growth. You take full responsibility for the success of your enterprise and there are no particular limits as to where you can go. It all has to do with your attitude and effective marketing skills. Hard work and much needed skill all come to play which in turn can be rewarding.

Also, as you try to build relationships, your involvement before the prospective home buyer makes the decision can spell the difference between having a successful deal or not. This in turn makes it worthwhile to involve yourself with the activities surrounding that decision.

You Take Charge of Your Own Time

Another key element why a lot of people are enticed into the real estate industry is because you do not have to work around other people’s time. You take charge of your own time and you are the boss. You also take charge for most part of the job such as building connections within your business circle which can make the job easier.

Real Estate Pros

3 Things Every Real Estate Pro Knows

The real estate market has made and broken people the world over. Those who have been successful in the market have learned critical lessons that have helped them to stay afloat and be immensely successful. They know both the history and location. Throughout your career in the real estate business, some fundamentals are timeless and have helped the heavyweights in the business to anticipate trends and get ahead of them rather than chasing them.

Know the local pricings

Being knowledgeable about the market trends in pricing can be an invaluable asset to someone in the real estate business. For example, a potential investor should analyze the markets and find out about areas with accelerated growth in pricing. Next, one should know about the differences in average home prices between towns. This can be used as an indicator to find out which area has the biggest demand and consequently, potential.

Look for catalysts

One of the biggest tells that a zone is going to be desirable in the future is the development of new infrastructure. Over time, the construction of schools, roads, malls, and others have been tells that the area will see a sharp growth spurt. By knowing these signs, one can be able to invest in a growing community which can be a very lucrative opportunity long-term. Visiting the town hall will help you get information about which projects are oncoming and as such help you to plan ahead.

Check school rankings

When you are looking to invest in residential real estate, school rankings are a good tell for which areas are more lucrative and hold the most potential. Schools are one of the best tells for the potential for a zone. A keen-eyed investor will look for schools with the potential to grow and climb the state’s school’s rankings as parents will always need their children to access quality education. Access to quality education is a huge selling point for new home buyers.

These are some of the trends that have shaped the real estate industry for a while and helped the wise investors to get ahead even in terrible markets. Always having these ideas in mind helps you identify opportunities better.

Buying A Condo?

BUYING A CONDO?

FOCUES ON THE NUMBERS, NOT JUST THE AMENITIES!

 

In the last 30 years, condos have become familiar sights on the real estate landscape but they can look and operate very differently from one another.  There is a wide spectrum of what constitutes a condo, including:

  • The 1960’s apartment complexes that have been spruced up and the ownership legally changed to condos
  • The thousands of mills, schools, and churches that have been adapted and reused as condos
  • The turn of the century 3 family homes wherein one unit can now command $500,000 or more in some cities
  • The upscale townhouse communities with every amenity aimed at the successful young suburban buyer
  • The age- restricted development with no children but plenty of senior oriented social programs.
  • The second home community with marinas, ski trails, golf courses, and upscale clubhouses

It is easy to find the right lifestyle fit for your buyer clients-whether they are looking for their first home or they are downsizing from the large home in the suburbs to a “maintenance free” home.  The units for sale can be staged, the parking lot filled with cars, and the location is perfect!  Your client chooses a unit, you encourage an offer “subject to the condo docs” and you feel that your job is almost done.  Unfortunately, condos are among the most misunderstood properties by both buyers and real estate agents and having a laissez-faire attitude about the condo documents can get an agent into trouble.    75% of the time, the agents don’t even know if they have all of the condo docs and once the offer has been made, the buyer agent emails whatever the listing agent has sent to him or her- hoping that the buyer’s attorney does not make an issue out of anything.

The condo documents are not the same as the operating instructions for the dish washer and heating system that agents put into a nice notebook to provide at closing.  In fact, before an agent encourages his/her client to view some units in a particular community, that agent should have read through all the documents and financial statements to determine if it is the right community to recommend for the client.

New England has many different types of condominium developments, and Planned Unit Developments (PUDS) are often confused as condos.  The agent needs to know the difference upfront.  In a PUD, the unit owner has a single family detached or townhouse style unit and owns the land under his/her unit.  He or she often may be responsible for the maintenance and replacement of the roof, siding, windows, etc.  No one else can use the area around their unit vs. a “regular” condominium unit that has limited common areas such as patios, decks, storage units, garage spaces, etc.  A limited common area is a part of the complex that is owned by all the unit owners in common; however, the use is restricted to a specific unit owner due to their unit’s proximity to the area.  A balcony off a living room is a great example- all the unit owners own the balcony but only one unit owner can use it.

The most important of the condominium documents are the financial statements= not the budget.  The financial statements show the actual financial history of the property and may have absolutely no relation to the budget (or projected income and expenses).  You and your client need to review the financial statements to see how many unit owners are paying their condo fees late (or are delinquent), what the management fee has been ( it should not be more than 10% of the total budget in a  well- run association, whether or not the onsite people have been keeping up with the maintenance (including changing lightbulbs in outside lights and hallways, cleaning indoor common hall carpets,  filling in potholes in the parking lot, and paying attention to any pools, tennis courts, and clubhouses.  Does the pool have a handicapped lift?  This is now a requirement in MA for all hotel, apartment, and condominium complex pools to enable access to the pool for people who have mobility problems.

You and your client need to review the reserves.  Many agents believe that you can just hand these statements to their clients, but as a buyer agent, you need to be able to analyze and explain them as well.  The capital reserve is the “bank account” that holds the money for the large ticket item replacement such as roofs, septic systems, wells (in NH), parking lot paving, sidewalks, and other capital projects.  Look at the list of the capital projects that have been done in the last few years and what the management team has planned for the current year.  Ask how old the major systems are and when they need to be replaced.  There are many condo projects that are in trouble due to common septic system or well failures, roofs that need replacing, and other expensive issues.  Harbor Towers in Boston had huge HVAC issues and had to special assess each owner over $100,000 because the capital reserves did not have enough money in the budget.

Review the Master Deed and the Unit Deed for the complex.  Who is responsible for maintaining and replacing the windows?  Older condo developments defined a unit as a “cube of air space” with the boundary being the inner surface of the inner most side of the exterior wall. Many unit owners have been surprised to learn that they are responsible for broken glass (especially problematic in a golf course community).  Who is responsible for the duct work and the piping that runs through the unit?  They may be part of one large system, but once they go through a demising wall into your client’s unit, the client may be responsible.  What happens if someone’s tub above your client’s unit overflows and floods your client’s unit?  Does the client seek payment from the master policy or from their unit owner’s policy and are they insured sufficiently?

New England experienced an Arctic winter a couple of years ago with 7 feet of snow.  Practically every complex’s budget ran a deficit due to snow plowing expenses- which is understandable.  You and your client will need to check the Operating Reserves to ensure that enough money has been budgeted for unforeseen expenses.

Become familiar with the Rules and Regulations so that you can discuss smoking, flag flying, yard sales, and other possibly regulated activities with your client before he/she makes an offer.  You will protect yourself legally, and instead of discouraging a sale, you will look like the local condominium expert to your client and he/she will be more loyal to you!

List It! Stage It! Sell It!

Now that the seller has chosen you to be his/her agent and the listing contract is signed, it’s time to take some photos and put the listing in MLS.  NO!!  This may have worked five or ten years ago, but, as we all know, the world has changed.  95% of all buyers start their search for a new home online and in this fast -moving world of Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, and other online media, the visual presentation of your listing can draw crowds of buyers to an open house, or it can let your property stagnate for months- leading to price reductions and unhappy clients.

Whether you are selling empty new construction homes or remodeled flips, or you have a listing for a 40 year old colonial, staging a home is now a necessity and needs to be part of the listing presentation with your seller.   The size and devotion of audiences for the many shows on the HGTV and DIY networks have led to a greater level of sophistication and expectation among buyers.  As agents, we have a second to catch the interest of potential buyers before they have clicked over to the next house online.

What is staging?  Staging quite literally creates a stage or blank canvas of a home onto which the potential buyers can project the stories and scenes of their lives.  Staging depersonalizes a home and enables buyers to envision their families living in the home- cooking in the kitchen, playing in the yard, and relaxing in front of the TV.  It brings out the best features of a home and downplays the negatives.  Professional stagers can be hired for $50-$150/hour plus the cost of furniture rental- if necessary.  NAR now offe  staging designations and seminars for agents who want to add staging to their arsenal of skills.

The first task of staging is decluttering the home.  Your sellers need to clean out closets in order to show off storage space, organize home offices by removing files, piles of papers, and books, and remove the myriad of family photographs on tables and walls.  Buyers can easily become distracted by viewing wedding photos of people whom they have never met instead of focusing on your listing’s fabulous features!  Rooms need to be viewed with a critical eye and extra furniture needs to removed.  This is particularly difficult when your sellers are collectors of figurines, baseball paraphernalia, roosters, or even mounted stuffed animals!  No matter how interesting the collection, you want your buyers concentrating on the house- not feeling the Fenway Park vibe or taking a trip through Kenya!  Think minimalism or even a vignette from Pottery Barn!  Rearrange rooms to make better use of space and float furniture instead of pushing sofas and chairs against the walls will give the illusion of more space.  You can create conversation areas in the middle of the room and highlight the area with a colorful area rug.

Curb appeal is essential to get the buyers out of the car and into the house.  You don’t want your listing to be the one where the buyer agent later tells you “They just didn’t like the look of the house so we decided to skip it”.   Bicycles, toys, cars under repair, and other items need to removed and either stored neatly in the garage or in an offsite self storage unit.  Lawns need to be kept mowed and planting beds should be regularly weeded and mulched.  Pots of flowers on the patio and colorful annuals can create an inviting entrance.  Front porches are the perfect place to have rocking chairs or Adirondack chairs with a small dining table set with a pitcher of lemonade and cookies in the summertime.

The front hall and mudroom area should have storage for boots, coats, and backpacks, and a piece of art or interesting table to draw the eye visually into the house.  Mirrors placed on walls across from windows can add more light.  Ensure that all of the small repairs that the seller has been meaning to do for years are actually taken care of before the house goes on the market.  It is well worth it to pay a handyman $35/hour to replace broken hardware, change burnt out bulbs in chandeliers, and switch out switch plates.  An inexpensive way to upgrade an out of date kitchen is to refinish and repaint dark cabinets for a more contemporary look.  Chalk paint, though expensive at $89/gallon is a life saver because there is no need to sand and prime furniture- you just paint it with one coat!

For the illusion of more space, walls and drapes can be the same color.  Remove all heavy valences and elaborate window treatments because they don’t fit into today’s contemporary decorating styles.  Think of removing wall to wall carpet if you know that there is hardwood underneath because carpet is now a turnoff for today’s buyers.  Grey has emerged as the new neutral because it picks up blues, silvers, and purples.  Matching furniture sets should be broken up for a more modern look.  We are seeing dining rooms with arm chairs in a different style than the side chairs for a more casual or boho style.  Add pops of color with pillows, art work, and glassware.  The cardinal rule of collection exhibiting is that they should be in odd numbers such as 3 vases or 3 different sized statues.

Bathrooms should be totally decluttered.  All prescription medicine should be hidden and removed because buyers will open closets and medicine cabinets.  Set a scene with plush towels, a terry cloth robe, bath salts, and a few candles, and it might just catch the eye of the romantic buyer!  The cardinal rule of bathroom photography is that the toilet lids must be down!

Master bedrooms should be staged as sanctuaries.  They should be a calm relaxing place so make sure your sellers repaint the bright red walls or remove the busy wallpaper.  Unless the home is an antique, wallpaper is viewed as a huge pain and can be an obstacle to a sale because today’s buyers do not want to buy a house with a lot of work to do.  Sellers should remove the wallpaper and paint the walls a soothing cream, beige, off white, light blue, or light green.  They should invest in new bed linens to match the walls and view upscale hotel photos for ideas to replicate- even with inexpensive throw pillows, shams, and bed shawls from the local Marshalls or Home Goods.

Lighting is an often overlooked element of staging.  Dimmer switches in dining rooms, living rooms, and bedrooms are inexpensive and can change the mood of the room.  Most homes do not have enough light- particularly newer homes without ceiling fixtures so add some spotlights for art work and uplighting to brighten corners.

Lastly, don’t forget to have your sellers enliven their rooms with fresh flowers and plants.   During the winter, vases of greens and sticks of red berries are festive and inexpensive.  Banish all the old fashioned fake flowers because they are just dust collectors and don’t add to the home’s visual appeal.  A rose in a bud vase on a bathroom counter or a small vase of tulips in the bedroom sets the stage and helps your buyers to picture themselves enjoying such a pleasant room.

Remember, the final act of the play that you have staged should be an accepted offer!