Sales

How Quickly are Condos Going Under Agreement in Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End?

In Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End, competition for condos can be fierce. Available inventory has remained low - essentially at the same levels as we saw pre-pandemic - so when well-priced, desirable condos hit the market, they sell quickly. 

How quickly?  Based on MLS data for condos listed between 12/23/2020 and 2/23/2021 (past 2 months), the following are the average days to accepted offer in the Back Bay, South End and Beacon Hill:
 

Under $1,000,000:  8.14 days

$1,000,000 - $1,999,999:  3.88 days

$2,000,000 - $2,999,999:  13.29 days

$3,000,000 and above: 15 days


On the market for less than 4 days on average, competition is extremely high for condos in the $1-2 million range.  Additionally, buyers are prioritizing outdoor space (especially private roof decks and patios).  The figures above are only for condos that have gone under agreement or sold, and there are units that are sitting on the market, but this data shows that buyers are out and looking this Spring.  

Connect with us if you are considering a move - we can set you up for immediate notifications and help you react quickly when you find your dream home.  With condos selling as quickly as they are, there is no time to snooze!

 


 

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Thinking of selling? Tips to prepare your home to put on the market

Spring market is the busiest time to sell homes and the 2021 spring market is fast approaching. According to local realtors spring market starts as early as March!

 

  • Start cleaning your home now
  • Take out the clutter
  • Pack grown up kids’ bedrooms
  • Interview realtors
  • Meet with stager or organizer
  • Do updates or repairs to improve value
  • Get quotes from moving companies
  • Remove personal items, family photos, etc.

 

The preparations you start now will pay off later and make for less work once the nice weather gets here.

Contact Cabot and Company to see how we can help make the process easier.

 

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Carpet Removal Made Simple

Do you have carpet that is old, with multiple stains and has collected the grime from city streets?  Are you ready for a change to wood flooring in one of the rooms in your condo or maybe the whole thing? It starts with ripping up the carpet, and you can save money by doing it yourself.

Here is a list of tools that you will need:
1.  Utility knife
2.  Vice grips or channel locks
3.  Crowbar or catspaw
4.  Dust mask
5.  Wood chisel 
6.  Hammer

Start by selecting an edge or a corner and use vice grips or channel locks to pull until the carpet is free from the underlayment (sponge-like material installed underneath the carpet). While using your dust mask, distribute your weight from your legs to your upper body and rip up a section of the carpet. From there, use a utility knife to cut the carpet into manageable pieces (recommend cutting every 4-6ft.) to facilitate an expedited and safe removal from your home. Once all the carpet is removed, there will remain underlayment. The underlayment will be stapled to the plywood substrate. The underlayment usually will not rip up clean, but in pieces. Try your best to pull carefully around the staples so the underlayment comes up in full sections. Use a wood chisel and channel locks to remove the staples that remain in the ply-wood. If some of the staples cannot be removed, use a hammer to embed the staples into the plywood. Once all underlayment is free, you will be left with a substrate ready to receive your new floor.

 

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Why Title is So Important

Whether you are buying or selling, clear title is essential to the purchase or sale of real estate. “Dirty” or “bad” title can be fatal to a deal. Unlike the deed (a legal, physical document recorded in the Registry of Deeds), the title isn’t a piece of paper, but a concept that gives you ownership of the property. Without clear title, you generally cannot purchase, mortgage or sell it in the near future. Some common examples of title defects are improper title transfers, previously unknown heirs, state or local tax liens, estate complications, contractor/mechanic liens, boundary encroachments and liens from creditors, lenders and the IRS.

The GBREB's (Greater Boston Real Estate Board's) standard purchase and sale agreement form provides for what happens in a transaction if defective title is discovered. Clause 10 states the seller has 30 days to use reasonable efforts to clear the title. If the seller cannot deliver clear and marketable title within the 30 day period, the buyer may elect to withdraw from the contract without penalty.  

Sellers benefit by searching the title prior to listing their property for sale to ensure there are no title defects or other title issues. Buyers protect themselves by having their attorney search the title as soon as the purchase and sale agreement is signed, and by purchasing title insurance.

One of the key services that real estate attorneys provide is verifying that the title is good and marketable, thereby providing peace of mind to both buyer and seller. And the bank.

DISCLAIMER: This is provided for informational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice. Please consult an attorney to discuss your specific questions regarding title and other legal matters.

 

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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 Security Systems for Boston Condos and Apartments

In these uncertain times, a home security system can enhance safety and peace of mind for urban residents. Since COVID-19, many city-dwellers are working from home and have groceries and packages delivered. A personalized security system enables residents to check what’s taking place in and around their property through surveillance cameras and smart phone communication, whether they are staying at home or monitoring from afar.

There are 2 general types of security systems for condos and apartments: wireless systems (DIY & unmonitored) and traditional (professionally monitored and hardwired).  Here are some pros and cons of each:
 

WIRELESS SYSTEMS

PROS:
1. Easy and fast install
2. Hooks up to smart phones for increased access and control
3. Portable security cameras and ability to see activity in your home from smart phone or tablet
4. Minimal equipment
5. Short contracts

CONS:
1. Electro-magnetic interference from other devices make these systems less reliable and easier to get hacked
2. Battery operated
3. You’re on call
 

HARDWIRED SYSTEMS

PROS: 
1. More reliable
2. Can be hidden in walls, ceilings and floors
3. Service company on call

CONS:
1. Installation done by professional
2. More expensive
3. Long-term contracts, less flexibility
4. May require approval of condo association or landlord


This NBC News article gives a nice overview and review of some home security system options.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Making a Home Office in Boston More “Workable”

As many offices have been closed for several months – and some expected to remain that way for the next several months – many workers have had to scramble to set up home offices.  For many in Boston, where space is at a premium, that wasn’t part of the plan when they were searching for their homes.  Here are a few useful tips we have seen/heard/implemented:

1.  Find the Best Spot in Your Home
If you live in a “cozy” apartment, this can be a challenge.  Sitting on your bed or on your couch is not ideal if you’re going to be working for an extended period.  If you don’t have any room to spare, the dining table or breakfast bar may be best.  Another good option can be a “corner desk”, which can work well in tight spaces.

2.  Comfortable Seating
Unless you have a standing desk, we spend a lot of time sitting.  Chairs in the office sometimes get a bad rap, but they tend to be relatively ergonomic.  A good chair can be a solid investment.

3.  Increase Internet Speed
Most of us weren’t planning to work from home full-time for an extended period.  Especially if you share your home with others, there may not be enough bandwidth for everyone’s phones, tablets, laptops and TVs to all be running simultaneously – especially if people are streaming music or videos or videoconferencing.

4.  Improve Lighting
Speaking of videoconferencing, lighting is an important consideration.  Working in a dark corner might make the most sense space-wise, but if you’re going to be videoconferencing, then a small lamp should help ensure your colleagues and clients can see you.  Unless you’re going for that doom-and-gloom vibe.

5.  Set Up Your Workstation like Your Office
You’re at home… it doesn’t “feel” like the office.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can impact your ability to get into the type of rhythm that you can have while at your office.  Organizing your work area with all of your necessary supplies nearby – and eliminating distractions (give Netflix the pleasure of being right that you are NOT still watching) – can help.

BONUS TIP: FIND A NEW HOME WITH YOUR IDEAL HOME-OFFICE SET-UP
It is looking increasingly likely that working from home will be part of the “new normal” for some time.  More and more companies seem to be looking for ways to let employees work remotely.  If the past few months have been a struggle to find space in your home to squeeze in a workspace, or perhaps your roommates are on different schedules which is creating other challenges, then maybe it’s time to explore options.  

Whether you want to search for a new home to rent or search for a home to purchase with room for an office, we can help!  Feel free to dive right in and look around.  But you can also contact us and one of our experienced agents can help serve as your guide.

 

 

Boston Condos with Private Outdoor Space

Private outdoor space in the City can be like having your own private, urban oasis.  In Boston, condos can feature a variety of types of private outdoor space.  They can range from roof decks to ground-level patios to balconies.  Some terraces are exquisitely landscaped.  Others are more minimalist in their design.  All, though, offer some fresh air in a spot that you can call your own! 

What should you look for in private outdoor space for your next Boston home?  Something that appeals to you and that you enjoy to use!  Private roof decks offer incredible views.  Private patios may provide your own area to grill.  

If you want to search for Boston condos with private outdoor space, you can start here.  

As always, you can also reach out to our team.  With our years of experience, we can help hone in on the options that best match what you’re looking for!

 

 

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How is COVID-19 Impacting Boston's Real Estate Market?

The COVID-19 pandemic has had, and will continue to have, a major impact on Boston's real estate market. Many different factors are at play. Most of the effects are having negative impacts on the market, such as increased unemployment in certain industries, slowed/stopped construction and widespread uncertainty about how much damage the pandemic will inflict on the economy and how long it will list. However, there are also a few side effects having a positive impact, such as the lowering of interest rates. 

The impact of this pandemic is only just starting to be felt. Looking at Boston's condo market, in the first quarter of this year, we actually saw more closed sales and more condos go under agreement this year than last year. However, we saw fewer listings come on the market.
 


 

While the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Boston was made on February 1st, many of the office/business closures and government-ordered restrictions did not come into place until March. In the beginning of March, in fact, the Boston condo market seemed to be performing very well and we actually saw more new listings come on the market than over the same period year. However, that quickly changed.
 


 

Looking at some major milestones in the month of March (see chart below), we get a better picture behind the slow-down.  

 


 

Currently, open houses are essentially prohibited due to the restrictions against public gatherings. Showings in and of themselves are also challenging, if not impossible, given the circumstances. Based on the slow down of new listings, and the challenges involved with showing the units there are on the market, we expect that the number of new units that go under agreement and the number of closed sales in the second quarter of the year to be lower than in last year's second quarter. 

It is too early to tell though where we will see sale prices trend. Certainly, as mentioned above, there are negative effects on the real estate market due to the epidemic, including that many businesses are closed which has severely increased the unemployment rate and forced others to accept pay decreases; the stock market has gone down substantially and some people that may have had their "down payment" funds in stocks saw those funds shrink; and there is continued uncertainty about the impact this pandemic will have on the economy and for how long.  

However, certain effects are pushing in the opposite direction. For instance, interest rates are extremely low, which presents favorable financing opportunities; while it is only temporary, the construction work-stoppages are further slowing the delivery of much needed additional supply of housing units; and some of the industries that comprise Boston's workforce may not be impacted as greatly by job and profit losses, which may insulate Boston more than some other parts of the country, as the medical, pharmaceutical, biotech and technology industries are all being called upon to help steer us through this pandemic.

It is also too early to tell what the second half to the year will bring. We have clients that were planning to bring their properties to market this Spring, but have decided to hold off until the COVID-19 concerns subside. We may see volume in the Summer and Fall this year turn out to be higher than in years past.

As always, we will continue to watch and monitor the market. Please reach out to us with any questions you may have on the market or if you have a property you plan to sell and want to discuss timing strategy.

 

 

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.