Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Kitchen Renovations - Q&A With An Expert

Housing trends come and go but one thing remains constant: the kitchen is still the most important room in the house! It is the heart of the home where people still love to gather with family and friends. No matter how many rooms there are in a house, everyone still ends up in the kitchen. And of course, kitchens are what sell houses!

I recently enjoyed a visit the Encore Construction showroom in Sudbury to see what's new and met with Award Winning Designer Nance Marshall* who graciously answered lots of questions so I could share them on my blog. I found Nance's insight very interested and helpful and hope you will too!

What is the first question most people ask you about remodeling their kitchen?
People are very concerned with the cost.  A kitchen is the most expensive room in a home.

What new trends are you seeing?
White cabinets are still preferred.  I urge my clients to be creative and get what THEY want. There really aren’t many rules, the kitchen should suit your family’s needs.

Is granite still the most popular choice for counter-tops? What else are you seeing?
Quartz is being used as much as granite, but for me there’s no replacing a beautiful piece of stone.

I’m seeing lots of grey and white - what is the best way to add color without being too trendy? The trick is to keep the space “warm and inviting”. If you LOVE blue, find a way to use it. The backsplash is an easy way to bring in your color and personality to tie it all together.

What is the most popular cabinet choice – white, dark wood, or other? Most are choosing White.  Keep in mind there are MANY “whites” to choose from.  We do encourage mixing in another color or wood.  You can do the island in a complimentary color or wood, maybe a beverage area in another finish?  You can also use different countertops in a kitchen to separate areas.

How long should people plan for their kitchen reno to take – complete makeover? Updating a few items? A full-blown kitchen down to the studs will be at least 3 months.  But you’ll quickly forget the time when you’ve got a gorgeous new kitchen! It really is the most important part of any home.

What is the most stressful part about remodeling a kitchen? For a family, it’s hard to be without your kitchen. It might be stressful for clients to make decisions that they all agree on.

What is the biggest misconception people have about redoing their kitchen? Most can’t understand why it takes so long, but it does.  Keep in mind a kitchen involves plumbers, electricians, carpenters, tile installers, countertops, painters and a ton of coordination. 

What is the most important thing for people to consider when choosing a contractor to do the renovation? Choose someone you feel comfortable working with.  You’ll be spending a lot of time with them...
Renovation by Encore
Return on investment is a consideration for renovation projects and if you would like a copy of the 2018 Cost vs. Value Report for Home Improvements please email marilynmessenger@realtor.com.


*Nance Marshall, Award Winning Designer, Encore Construction, 359 Boston Post Road, Sudbury, MA 01776, Tel:  978.443.4700, www.encoreco.com, nance@encoreco.com

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Gift of Home Saves Taxes!

Holiday time is when people get together with family and friends, to exchange gifts and talk about plans for future which often include buying or selling a house. It’s also year-end and a good time to think about estate planning and taxes. Did you know that parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even friends can start to pass along/gifting their estates while reducing inheritance taxes and getting to see their family enjoy the benefits of their gifts? What could be a better gift than tax-free help with a down-payment on a home?

NOTE: The following information was provided by a loan officer, however you should always talk

with a tax expert and financial adviser about your specific goals and financial situation.

Gifts are involved in approximately 25% of all of the mortgage loans that are transacted. Gifts from family members and relatives are allowed under IRS and lending guidelines but lenders do not report the parties involved to the IRS.

Under current IRS guidelines (please consult your accountant for tax advice and ramifications) each parent or relative can give up to $14,000 to each child or relative every year. That would mean that a mother and father can each give $14,000 a year to each son, daughter, and/or grandchild that would amount to $28,000 a year in total. If both sets of parents want to help with the down-payment on a house; each of the parents can give each borrower a gift of $14,000 per year. That would add up to $56,000 for both of you! That is a significant amount of tax-free money to help you buy a home for your family! Of course, a gift can also be less than $14,000, so give what you can.

That amount is per calendar year and not based on every twelve months. That would mean that they could give $56,000 (or more) in December 2017 and an additional $56,000 (or more) in January 2018. With only on month left in 2017, this is the time to bring up the subject with your family. What could make them happier than helping you buy a house and saving money on taxes?

For most types of mortgage loans, you will need to have 5% of the amount of the down-payment on your own, however, there are exceptions. To find out the exceptions and details about how gift money can be applied to your down-payment contact a reputable mortgage broker.

Visit www.marilynmessenger.com to see homes for sale, get the latest real estate market reports, and learn about having your own buyer agent on your side. 

About the author: Marilyn Messenger, a licensed real estate broker, Certified Residential Specialist, and Accredited Buyer Representative associated with Andrew Mitchell and Company in Concord has been representing home buyers and sellers in Wayland, Sudbury, Maynard, Stow, and Concord MA since 1993. www.MarilynMessenger.com for more. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

7984 Reasons to Sell Your House Over the Holidays

Holiday Season is a Great Time to Sell!
The holiday season is such a hectic time for people. Getting together with family and friends, traveling, shopping, decorating, company parties, charity events... So why would a home-seller keep their house on the market and even more, why would anyone list their house for sale during this busy time? A lot of real estate agents (who don't work over the holidays) will tell you that no one buys houses over the holidays anyway and you'll get more money if you wait until Spring like everyone else does, right?

Well actually, there are 7984 reasons why! That is the number of single-family and condominium home sellers in Middlesex County who accepted offers on their houses last year between November 15 and January 15. That includes 22 in Sudbury, 12 in Wayland, 17 in Concord, and 18 in Maynard. In Weston, there were 16, 22 in Hudson, and in Acton there were 30!

Sale prices for the properties that accepted offers during the holidays ranged from $108,000 for a condominium in Acton to $5,500,000 for a luxury estate in Weston; and all prices ranges in between. 

So why do houses sell over the holidays? Because:
  • Buyers have time to look; unused vacation days; companies give their employees extra time for shopping.
  • Holiday/year-end bonuses.
  • Pay-raises.
  • Motivated buyers who missed out or were out-bid in the Spring, Summer and Fall markets.
  • New jobs - companies hire for the new year. Relocating buyers need to make decisions soon.
  • People get engaged, married, combine households and need more space.
  • Visiting family brings out the nesting instinct.
  • Down-payment holiday gifts - click here to out how your family can give money tax-free.
  • Good deals; buyers are seeing price reductions from sellers who are ready to move.
  • People are in the mood to shop and there's nothing better than buying a house!
As for selling for more money in the Spring, if you are selling your house you are most likely going to buy another place to live. If prices are higher in the Spring, then you will also pay more for your next house. You may sell for less at this time of year but you will also pay less. If your end-goal is to buy another house, then understand that selling is just a step n the process toward buying. You will be ready to act as soon as houses come on the market while other buyers are waiting to sell.

So if your house is currently on the market, hang in there; the inconvenience can be worth it. If you are planning to sell, do it now. You'll be ahead of the competition and be ready to move forward.
If you are ready to buy or sell in Concord, Wayland, Sudbury, or any of the towns west of Boston - call Marilyn at 508-596-3501 or visit www.marilynmessenger.com to see homes for sale in Massachusetts.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Home Buying and Selling: Who Works For You?

More often than you’d expect, homeowners refer to the person they bought their insurance from as their agent. It sounds reasonable but it’s definitely not accurate. That person is the agent of the insurance company and they legally represent the company, not the customer. Even an independent agent who can place a policy with different companies is still an agent of the company.

A mortgage officer, in most cases is an employee and represents the company. And the same is true for a title or escrow officer. It’s important to understand the actual relationship to know what you can expect from them. Any business person who wants to stay in business must treat their customers fairly and with a high degree of service. As a customer, you should be able to reasonably expect honesty and accountability. The difference is that employees owe their loyalty to their employer and agents owe their loyalty to their principal.

An agent owes more than just honesty and accountability. The principal can expect complete disclosure, obedience, loyalty, reasonable skill and care and confidentiality from their agent. This advocacy is very beneficial during the buying or selling process to coordinate all aspects of the transaction. The agent can bring valuable experience to your side of the transaction to provide confidence that your best interests are being represented from start to finish.

Most states have a recognized procedure for the real estate professional to create a formal relationship between themselves and a buyer or seller. This requires a fiduciary/statutory responsibility that places the principals’ interests above the agent’s own personal interests.

In Massachusetts real estate brokers and salespeople/agents are required to provide consumers the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure form at the first personal meeting with you to discuss a specific property. The form explains the types of agency an agent can provide. Although, this has been mandatory for years, many buyers who have looked at properties with other agents often tell me they have never seen the form! Consumers have a right to know who an agent represents.

Additionally, while a home seller is required to sign a written agreement in order to list their home for sale with a REALTOR (member of the National Association of Realtors), it is also in a buyer's best interest to have a written agreement with an agent who is going to represent them as a buyer agent. It clarifies expectations so there are no surprises or misunderstanding about responsibilities and makes for a less stressful transaction. Here are some of the other advantages of a written buyeragency agreement. 
About the author: Marilyn Messenger  is a local broker associated with Andrew Mitchell and Company, Concord. She has been representing buyers and sellers in Concord, Wayland, Sudbury, Maynard, and the towns west of Boston since 1993. She is a Certified Residential Specialist (less than 4% of Realtors have achieved the CRS® designation), an Accredited Buyer Representative and is an active member of the Real Estate Buyer Agency Council. Messenger is also a Certified Luxury Homes Marketing Specialist and a Million Dollar Guild Member. Visit www.MarilynMessenger.com.  

Connect with Marilyn Messenger on Google+

Monday, September 18, 2017

Who's Buying Houses in Stow?

Stow is one of the most beautiful towns west of Boston and the video above shows three properties that my buyer clients including first-time buyers, move-up buyers, and active adults/55+ purchased over the summer.

So what did they buy in Stow? The first home shown, a classic 4 bedroom colonial-style, was purchased by first-time buyers who wanted quiet and privacy and land. They were happy to trade off granite counters and stainless steel appliances for a quiet location and a gorgeous acre lot!
The house needs some updating but the purchase price was under-budget and they are willing and able to do some work to have a place they can call home for many years to come!

The second photo is a new development for seniors/55+ that includes attached and detached townhouses with first-floors master suites, full basements, and 2 car-garages. The buyers are moving to Stow to be closer to their grandchildren in Concord. They are happy to have their own buyer agent helping navigate the buying process and help them get to know the area. More about buyer agency for new construction...

The third house is nicely updated expanded split-level home also on an acre lot with a gorgeous backyard. These move-up buyers who sold their townhouse in Maynard were willing to trade a neighborhood location for a more main road to get the amount of interior space and outdoor area they want for entertaining fiends and family!

Homes for Sale in Stow: There are 19 single-family houses for sale in Stow; last year there were 24 for sale. List prices in Stow range from $349,000 to $1,200,000. Lower inventory is putting upward pressure on prices in Stow but there are still some good values available. The median list price for a single-family home is currently $699,000; last year it was $582,400.

The median home sale price for a single-family home in Stow has gone up 14.91% since 2013!  See the most recent market report for Stow. 

With it's abundant apple orchards, farm stands, and golf courses, Stow is a very popular place for people to visit in the Fall. If you've been in your house for 5 or more years and are thinking about selling traffic will be peaking soon so let's talk - 508-596-3501.

Perfect Fall Day in Stow  - October 2016!

About the author: Marilyn Messenger, a licensed broker, Certified Residential Specialist, Accredited Buyer Representative, Certified Luxury Homes Specialist and Million Dollar Guild Member associated with Andrew Mitchell and Company, has been representing buyers and sellers  in Stow, Maynard, Concord, Sudbury, Wayland & west of Boston since 1993.

Blog Archive