Iana Ulianova

Roadmap to Buying a Home in and around Boston

While the year 2020 has presented some major challenges for many people, there have been some upsides as well. For instance, interest rates have set record lows a few times this year, creating a rare opportunity, especially for first time home buyers. So what does the buying process look like in the Boston area?

Once you have spoken with your real estate agent and identified neighborhoods and types of properties you are interested in, and established a price range through your lender, here is a general overview*:

1. Start viewing homes.  Visiting open houses and viewing properties by appointment with your agent are both great ways to see available options. Our website is a great place to search homes available for sale in the Boston area.

2. Make an offer.  Once you’ve found a property you are interested in, make an offer. This is one of the most important steps in the process. Your real estate agent will provide you with a market analysis to help determine a price to offer, guide you through the various aspects such as timing and contingencies, and help position the offer as strongly as possible. Generally, a $1,000 deposit is due with the offer and the seller is usually given a 24 hour deadline to respond.

3. Home inspection.  When the offer is accepted, a home inspection is typically the next step, and usually takes place within 7-10 days of an accepted offer.

4. Review condominium documents (if applicable) and other items.  This is also the time when you generally review the condominium documents (if you are purchasing a condo). Your attorney should review them as well. The master deed, declaration of trust, rules and regulations, condo budget and recent condo meeting minutes can all provide important context on the building – for instance, is the association budgeting for capital improvements, are there any restrictions on renting out the condominium, are there are pet restrictions, etc. This usually takes place within 7-14 days of an accepted offer.

5. Sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S).  The P&S sets out, in greater detail than the offer, the terms of the purchase/sale. With the P&S, the deposit also increases – typically, the deposit is increased from the $1,000 deposit made with the offer to 5% of the purchase price (though this can vary greatly). Generally, the P&S is signed within around 14 days of the accepted offer. 

6. Obtain your mortgage commitment letter.  Throughout the process, you will be working with your lender to provide them the information that they need to approve the loan. The lender’s approval is given to you in a “commitment letter”, which they typically issue to you within 30-45 day of the accepted offer. Note that this timeframe varies depending on current processing times, so check with your lender. Commitment letters also typically contain conditions, so they are not a “guarantee” of financing – this is also something you should discuss with your lender. Here is a list of some common mistakes to avoid while your mortgage is in process.   

7. The final walk-through.  Usually done the day before or the morning of the closing, the final walk-through is a short visit to the property (usually 10-15 minutes) to ensure it is in the condition that was expected (e.g. any repairs that were required to be made have been done, furniture has been moved out, appliances are all still in place, etc.).

8. CLOSING!  This is when you sign A LOT of documents. But once the deed is recorded, the home is officially yours! 
 

* Please note that while this is a general outline, there is no one-size-fits-all. The steps, deposit amounts and timeframe will all vary case-by-case. Closings may happen quicker, for instance if you are paying with cash, or slower. For guidance on your particular transaction, have a discussion with your real estate professional. 

 

 

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Home Search During COVID-19 Outbreak

These days it feels that life has been put on hold, as a lot of things we used to do are restricted or stopped altogether. That being said, people still have to move, and we are hearing daily from prospective buyers, sellers and renters. 

Real estate agents, and the real estate industry as a whole, is adapting quickly to what is going on in the world and people's lives, and we are here to help. In an era of social distancing, here are a few things to keep in mind when looking for a home:

1. Video Tours. Video tours are available for many properties, especially Cabot & Company's exclusive listings. Thanks to our agents and tenants, we have compiled a database of videos for the majority of our available apartments. 

2. Experienced Agents. Our agents know our exclusively listed properties inside-out. At a time when it is important to carefully evaluate a property before scheduling an in person viewing, it is important to work with someone that knows the apartment and has personally seen it. For our exclusive listings, we have seen and rented them multiple times, so call your agent with questions. 

3. Further Evaluating Occupied Apartments. Given the current circumstances, it is difficult to visit occupied apartments. Agents, tenants and landlords are all trying to be safe and responsible. At Cabot & Company, we are endeavoring to practice social distancing. Most current tenants are understanding of the circumstances and are happy to assist us in answering your questions and sending additional photos or videos.

4. Visiting a Vacant Apartment. We are doing our best to help you screen properties before scheduling a tour. Ask for a video first. Still interested and want to view it in person? Be prepared for the following: 

- You may be asked whether you have traveled recently, or have any reason to believe you have been exposed or are exhibiting CODIV-19 symptoms.  

- You may be asked to use hand sanitizer before and during the tour, and wear gloves and a mask/face covering.

- You will likely be asked not to touch anything. Many agents are turning on all lights and opening all doors and closets ahead of time.

- Any showings are encouraged to be prompt. Take a quick look around, and then discuss any questions outside. Your agent will also be happy to answer follow up questions via email or on a phone call.

 

This is a challenging time, but it does not mean your home search needs to be put on hold. We are all working to navigate through the COVID-19 outbreak together. Do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or suggestions on how we can further help with you house hunting.

 

 

 

Jamaica Plain: Market Update

Jamaica Plain is one of the fastest growing real estate markets in Greater Boston. Diverse, vibrant, and centrally located, it is highly sought after among buyers - investors and owner occupants alike. JP is an easy commute for those working in the center of Boston, and is more affordable than neighborhoods like Back Bay or South End.

Based on data from MLS, over the past five years, the average condo sale price per square foot in Jamaica Plain has increased from $428.91 in 2015 to $543.90 in 2019. So far this year, the average condo sale price is closing at 101.79% of the asking price, compared to 103.79% of the asking price as of the same date in 2015. In other words, not only are the average sale prices per square foot higher, but also condos are still selling for "over asking".
 


Source: MLS Property Information Network, Inc.

 

Curious about what's on the market in Jamaica Plain?  Click here to start your search.

 

 

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Advantages of Working with a Buyer's Agent

We are sometimes asked: Do I really need a buyer’s agent, or can I make an offer on a property on my own?  Certainly, it is possible to buy a home without the help of a buyer’s agent.  However, there are a number of advantages in working with an experienced agent.  Here are some reasons to work with a buyer’s agent:  

1. It’s Free For Buyers. Except in a few, very limited circumstances, the buyer’s agent’s commission in the Boston area is paid by the seller or seller’s agent.    

2. Buyers Get Representation. The seller’s agent represents the seller, and it is their obligation to act in the best interests of the seller.  Having a buyer’s agent ensures you have an experienced professional on your team to look out for YOUR best interests.

3. Market Data. A buyer’s agent can educate you on local market trends.  Buying a home represents a substantial investment – it is important to know about the market/area you are buying into.

4. Make Searching for Property Easy.  When working with a buyer’s agent, there’s no need to scroll through endless websites looking at properties that are no longer available.  A buyer’s agent can create a custom MLS (Multiple Listing Service) search tailored to your search criteria, so you can be notified as soon as new properties come on market. 

5. Help with Paperwork.  There are a number of forms and documents involved in purchasing a home.  A buyer’s agent will help you navigate through them.

6. Price Analysis. You want to make an offer, but is the property over-priced, underpriced or priced right in line with the market?  Your agent will create a comprehensive market analysis based on similar properties that have been sold, to help you determine what price to offer.  A seller’s agent is obligated to get their client (the seller) the highest possible price; again, it is important to have a professional looking out for your interests.

7. Negotiations. The purchase price is just one component of an offer.  A buyer’s agent will help guide you on the other terms that make up an offer, such as inspection contingencies, mortgage contingencies and timing – careful consideration of all offer terms help make sure your offer is as strong as possible. If issues come up during the purchase process (such as property defects identified during a home inspection), your buyer’s agent can also help negotiate for appropriate concessions from the seller.

8. Support throughout the Transaction. An experienced buyer’s agent can help make introductions to other industry professionals that may be necessary throughout the purchase process, such as lenders, attorneys, home inspectors and insurance agents.  Additionally, your agent will keep you apprised of upcoming deadlines and communicate with the involved parties to help keep your purchase on a smooth path towards closing.
 

If you would like to be connected with one of our experienced buyer’s agents, please contact us here.  

Just getting started with the home-buying process?  Feel free to start your search here.

 

 

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6 Mistakes to Avoid While Your Mortgage is in Process

The offer on your new home was accepted, your inspection went smoothly, the purchase and sale agreement has been signed, and now you are just waiting for your mortgage commitment letter. You are almost done, but don’t go shopping for that new furniture set just yet!

Most lenders recommend taking a financial pause. Here are some suggestions to avoid common mistakes that can prevent you from getting your mortgage:

 

1. Do not open any new lines of credit, including opening new credit cards, or taking out new loans.

2. Do not close existing credit accounts.

3. Do not make any large purchases, such as buying/leasing a new car, expensive furniture sets, etc.

4. Do not make significant job changes, such as quitting or changing your job.

5. Do not make large deposits or withdrawals from your bank account.

6. Do not pay your bills late.


If you have any questions, ALWAYS check with your loan officer.

Happy closing!

 

 

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