How to Win the Bidding War on the Home You Want to Buy – realtor.com

Have you ever noticed how things that are going on for you in work or in your personal life often seem to pop up in the media at that exact moment?  I have been assisting a buyer over the past 24 hours, in making an offer on a desirable property in Northampton.  We are in a bidding war, about to submit our “highest and best offer”, along with the other buyers who submitted an offer on the same property.  A bidding war is essentially a blind auction.  We use the tools at our disposal, but we never know what the strength is of the competing offer.  My client and I have pored over the comparable properties which have sold recently, and discussed the pros/cons and projected resale value for the property.  However, at the end of the day. he can only offer an amount at which he won’t be disappointed that he didn’t offer more if he doesn’t get it; or that he didn’t offer less if he does get it.  Negotiating offers is not black and white.  To that end, I happened upon this informative piece on realtor.com today.

How to Win the Bidding War on the Home You Want to Buy

By: Michele Lerner  How to Win the Bidding War on the Home You Want photo

If you are buying a home at the height of a citywide seller’s market or simply want a sought-after house

Competing against faceless prospective buyers may bring out the warrior in you, but before you decide to go all out in your battle, you need to step back and decide how much you really want that particular home.in a neighborhood with limited turnover, you may find yourself in the midst of a real estate bidding war.

Should You Compete in a Bidding War?

In the thick of competition you may forget your end goal is a home you love and can afford to own. If your offers have been turned down by several sellers because of competing buyers, then you may feel pushed to make an aggressive offer for the next home you like.

You should stop yourself from competing just because you think the time is right to become a homeowner or to move up into a new place. Instead, think about whether you really want the particular house enough to fight for it.

To guard against making an emotion-fueled offer for a house, take a hard look at your finances. While it may feel good at first to beat out other buyers and to purchase a property, it won’t feel so great in a year or two when you are struggling to make the payments on a house beyond your means. Know your limits before you begin to bid.

Prep for Battle

Your first step before entering a bidding war should be to consult with a lender to understand the maximum amount you can borrow, to evaluate how much cash you have to spend while keeping enough money in a reserve fund.

Next, make sure you hire an experienced REALTOR® who can share information about local market conditions and communicate with the seller’s agent. You should rely on your REALTOR® for advice about how to handle a bidding war, but be sure to do your own research: visit a lot of homes in the area where you want to buy so you understand the value of various properties before you make an offer.

Bidding War Strategies

Your REALTOR® should work with you to craft an attractive offer based on the list price for the home, a comparative market analysis of similar homes, and knowledge gained from the sellers’ agent about the sellers’ motivations and preferences.

In a bidding war, it’s important to work with a REALTOR® who will move quickly to present your offer and any counteroffer, one who is easy to communicate with during the transaction.

While you may assume money is the motivator that steers sellers to one buyer over another, there are other ways to make your offer attractive, such as these ideas:

Solid financing: You may be competing against cash buyers, so make sure your loan pre-approval is in place and you have completed all required documentation other than identifying a specific property.

Eliminate contingencies—carefully: If you own a home now, you may want to offer to buy another home without making your contract contingent on the sale of your current home. You take the risk of carrying two mortgages for a while, so make sure you can safely handle the payments. You can also decide to have an “information only” home inspection rather than making your offer contingent on the outcome of the inspection.

Make the settlement date convenient for the sellers: Rather than negotiating on a closing date convenient to all sides, you can tell the sellers you will work with their schedule or rent back the property to them after the closing.

Offer to pay all closing costs: You can reduce the sellers’ out-of-pocket expenses by offering to pay their share of the settlement fees, but before you do this get an accurate estimate of what those costs will be and make sure you have the funds available to pay them.

Personalize the transaction: Sometimes the tipping point for sellers who receive multiple offers is something emotional rather than financial. A personal letter describing your love of their home may tilt the scale in your favor.

Try an escalation clause: Money talks, too, so you can add an escalation clause to your offer that increases your bid by a certain amount above other offers. Just make sure you set a limit on how high your offer will go.

Control yourself: Remember that any offer is subject to an appraisal (unless you waive that contingency, but that’s not recommended unless you have plenty of cash), so be careful not to bid above the market value of any property.

via How to Win the Bidding War on the Home You Want – Buy – realtor.com.

Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

One of the pieces of advice we often give our seller clients as listing agents, is that a fresh coat of paint goes a long way towards making a home (or an individual room) look better.  In addition, it is a relatively small investment to make when thinking about how to improve the look of your home.  I found this relevant blog post on Apartment Therapy which gives concise tips about choosing paint colors.  Of course, you can always speak to your realtor about local painters who also specialize in help with color choices.  Whether you are more into the DIY approach or not, this information may be of interest.

Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

5-12-08paintcolors.jpg

We think Marilyn and Peter got it just right when they chose this shade of gray-green for their accent wall, but as winners of the 2006 Fall Colors Contest, they’ve got a natural knack for color. Not everyone is so adept at picking out paint, so we’ve listed a few tips below for choosing paint colors…

Just to kick off the conversation, these are ideas we’ve collected (especially over the last couple weeks, as we’ve been choosing paint colors for all the rooms in our new apartment). Add your tips and tricks in the comments below.

5-12-08painting4.jpgFlickr Finds: Dior Gray Accent Wall

• Choose a color that works with your furniture. It’s much easier to change your walls than buy a new living room set, so use what you already own to guide your choices.

• Consider a room’s natural light when choosing whether to go dark or pale. Generally, rooms with lot of natural light can handle dark colors better than a poorly lit room. Pale shades will usually reflect natural light.

• Choosing the right color is all about balance. If you have colorful furnishings or accent pieces in your home, try balancing them with more neutral walls. If your all-neutral furniture feels bland, use a bold color to give the room some kick.

5-12-08painting5.jpgColorTherapy: Coastal Fog

• If you see a color you like in a photograph, try to match it to a color chip. Although colors aren’t reliable online, a photograph of a whole room gives you a better idea of a color than a swatch on your screen. For rooms that list color sources from AT, see NY’s Color Therapy posts.

• Collect chips in a range of colors and look at them against any upholstery, rugs, and wood tones in the room.

• Pair wall colors with a complimentary trim, or paint trim and baseboards the same color as the walls for a modern look. When choosing trim, remember that colors change in relation to one another. Collect chips and samples for both your main and accent colors.

5-12-08painting3.jpgColor Combo: Gray and Blue

• In our experience, paint almost always looks darker on the wall than it does on the chip. If you’re working off a chip, choose the color you want, then consider going a shade lighter.

• Choose the type of finish you want for your room. Flat finishes hide imperfections, while glossy finishes reflect light. Flat finishes are harder to keep clean (so they’re not ideal for a kitchen or bathroom), but glossy finishes can look cheap if the walls aren’t in top form.

• Even if you have to pay a little, invest in a small sample pot and paint a few swatches in your room, near the windows and in dark corners.

• Although painting can be stressful, it’s one of the least expensive changes you can make in a room, so don’t get too upset if you make a mistake. You can always change it later.

via Tips for Choosing Paint Colors | Apartment Therapy.

Testing the Connecticut River

I came across this article today in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton‘s local newspaper.  Since many of us living in the PioneerValley tend to spend a good deal of time in local bodies of water during the summertime (and beyond), I thought it would be a good idea to repost this information for our readers.  How healthy is our beautiful and picturesque Connecticut River?

Agencies team up for first ‘Samplepalooza’ to test Connecticut River

health

By DIANE BRONCACCIO Recorder Staff
Just how pollutant-free is the Connecticut River, from the top of Vermont to the Long Island Sound? A group of agencies will pool their efforts Wednesday to collect data on nitrogen and phosphorous content, along with other algae-growing nutrients, during a one-day water-testing event they are calling “Samplepalooza 2014.” Teams of volunteers and professionals will visit at least 50 locations on the Connecticut River and its tributaries, covering more than 1,000 river-miles in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. They will be taking water samples and testing for phosphorous, chloride, pollutants and nutrients, which can cause algae blooms that choke oxygen from the water. Nitrogen from the Connecticut River and other rivers entering the Long Island Sound has been determined to be the cause of a “dead zone” documented by researchers, according to the Connecticut River Watershed Council. Local samples will be taken near Route 10 in Northfield, in the Millers River, near the Erving/Wendell line, in the Deerfield River in Deerfield and along Fort River in Hadley, said Andrea Donlon, river steward for the watershed council. “What we’re trying to get is a sense of — on the same day, with no rain — how these places compare with one another in terms of nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients,” Donlon explained. This strategy allows for more accurate comparisons to be made among samples while minimizing differences in weather and river flow. Donlon said Connecticut has already done a lot of work trying to reduce nutrients that lead to oxygen depletion in Long Island Sound, but that the upper states along the 410-mile river have not done as much research. She said the findings from this sampling might help the upper states decide “how to get the most bang for their buck” by targeting cleanup efforts on locations that are most in need of improvement. “This effort is a one-day-only snapshot of the nutrient levels,” said Donlon. Emily Bird, an environmental analyst for the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission in Lowell, said that portions of Long Island Sound bottom waters become hypoxic during summer months. Hypoxic means the water lacks adequate oxygen for aquatic life. She said excess discharges of nutrients such as nitrogen cause excess algae growth; when the algae dies, it sinks to the bottom and decomposes. The decomposition process uses up oxygen in the water. Between 1987 and 2000, the size of Long Island Sound’s hypoxic area averaged 208 square miles. From 2000 to 2013, after a plan was adopted to reduce nitrogen loading to Long Island Sound, the area of hypoxia was reduced to an average of 176 square miles. From 1987 until 2013, the average duration of the hypoxia has been about 58 days. Groups participating in this effort include the Connecticut River Watershed Council, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Welcome Scott Rebmann!

We are very happy to announce the newest Realtor/Associate Broker to join our ranks at Maple and Main Realty – welcome Scott Rebmann!  Scott has been working in Real Estate since 2009 and he is excited to be living and working in the field he loves right here in the heart of the Pioneer Valley.  Read on to find out more about Scott, and how he can assist you with your real estate needs.  You can also contact him directly at scott@mapleandmainrealty.com.

image

After attending the a University of Missouri-Columbia, I spent 20 years in Tucson, AZ; where I explored my passion for food by owning and operating my own cafe and catering business.  Real estate beckoned and I discovered my love of historic homes; purchasing and renovating two beautiful properties in Tucson. In 2009 I moved to Washington, D.C. where I honed my customer service skills working with one of the metro areas top producing real estate teams. During this time, I would often visit friends and family in western Massachusetts and fell in love with the beauty and bounty of the area. Now I’m proud and happy to be in a place that truly feels like home. 

As an associate broker, I feel that one of my greatest strengths is my love of the real estate contract. Yes, I said it…I love contracts!  I see myself as your real estate concierge…you get to fall in love with the house that you will call home and it’s my job to help you navigate and negotiate your way through the process; making it as easy and enjoyable as possible.  My attention to detail and a great sense of perspective go a long way in creating a smooth experience. 

295 South Street, Northampton MA

Set back from the road in Northampton, MA, sits this beautiful 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath home at 295 South Street.  We invite you to click on the hotlink and take a tour of this charming family home, within walking distance to Northampton Center.  Please note, there are actually two year round porches – off of the master bedroom and living room respectively – as well as a three season porch off of the kitchen.

The house has been in the same family for over 40 years.  While a new owner would likely want to make cosmetic updates, this house has great bones, a lovely slate roof in great condition, the heat and hot water systems have been maintained and are in good working order, the house has a large, beautiful and quiet lot behind the house – which abuts town land and the Mill River.  There are lovely original architectural details, hardwood floors and windows throughout.  There is a full, dry walk out basement and a full attic.  You can see from the video footage that the house has great curb appeal!

The house is currently listed for $375,000 and the sellers are motivated.  They want to pass their beloved family home onto a new family who will appreciate it’s inherent charm and beauty, and also appreciate that it is priced with the need for cosmetic updates in mind.

Contact Julie Starr for a showing at juliestarr@mapleandmainrealty.com.

172 Greenleaf Drive, Florence MA

172 Greenleaf Drive in Florence MA is a spacious 3500+ square foot contemporary style home, located a mere 10 minutes from downtown Northampton, MA.   This lovely 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath house sits on a quiet street on a 1.08 acre lot.  The home includes a 2-car attached garage, and cook’s kitchen; with a professional Viking range and Ashfield stone counter tops.  On the first level, the living room, complete with fireplace, opens up to a peaceful deck overlooking the backyard.  The soaring ceilings and large windows allow for a beautiful light-filled living space.  The laundry is located on the second floor in one of the two full baths.  There are 4 bedrooms on the second floor, including a Master suite, with a walk-in closet and full bath.  The walk-out finished basement has additional living space, a built in media center, as well as a dark room which could be converted back to a half bath.  The backyard is beautifully landscaped, including a Goshen stone patio, with lawn and garden beds overlooking the wooded area behind.  This efficient home was built in 1994.  It has a three-zone forced hot air oil heating system, as well as central A/C.  172 Greenleaf Drive is offered at $599,000.  Please allow some advance notice to schedule a showing with Susan Mayhew, the listing agent. Front yard IMG_7444_edited Cook’s kitchen IMG_7367_edited IMG_7372_edited Dining room IMG_7348_edited Living room IMG_7379_edited   Master bedroom IMG_7430_edited   Walk out basement to Goshen stone patio in back IMG_7455_edited

More on Decluttering

How to efficiently — and regularly — rid your home of the things you don’t want

Many of us have a problem with clutter. It can be so hard to get rid of things. Often the difficulty comes down to deciding whether something really is clutter. The struggle can be internal (“I could use this some day”), or with various family members (“Are you kidding me? That was my Aunt Agatha’s!”)If you are desperate to clear things out of your house, a good place to start is the stuff everyone can agree needs to go. In our family no one wants to hold on to outgrown clothing, dead batteries, returnable bottles and cans, and books we’ve read but don’t love enough to keep. So why can’t we get them out of the house? Why are they piled by the door or on the end of the table, stashed in the back of the pantry or moldering in bags in the garage? Why!I was thinking about this as we cleaned the garage last week, and then again when I unloaded a table outside our laundry room and noted the various bags of things I had carefully gathered and sorted and then forgot about for weeks on end. I realized we need to come up with a few systems for getting this stuff out of the house. We need some exit strategies.

Home Sales Increasing

This information, posted recently on National Association of Realtors website, describes improving trends in real estate sales in the United States.  While this national news doesn’t necessarily reflect local real estate trends exactly – it is in keeping with our earlier post of May 21st, about housing in the Pioneer Valley and Northampton area.   At any rate, inventory is increasing and sales activity is improving!

WASHINGTON (June 23, 2014) – Existing-home sales rose strongly in May and inventory gains continued to help moderate price growth, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All four regions of the country experienced sales gains compared to a month earlier.

Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 4.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million in May from an upwardly-revised 4.66 million in April, but remain 5.0 percent below the 5.15 million-unit level in May 2013. The 4.9 percent month-over-month gain in May was the highest monthly rise since August 2011 (5.5 percent).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said current sales activity is rebounding after the lackluster first quarter. “Home buyers are benefiting from slower price growth due to the much-needed, rising inventory levels seen since the beginning of the year,” he said. “Moreover, sales were helped by the improving job market and the temporary but slight decline in mortgage rates.”

Total housing inventory2 at the end of May climbed 2.2 percent to 2.28 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 5.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down slightly from 5.7 months in April. Unsold inventory is 6.0 percent higher than a year ago, when there were 2.15 million existing homes available for sale.

The median existing-home price3 for all housing types in May was $213,400, which is 5.1 percent above May 2013. “Rising inventory bodes well for slower price growth and greater affordability, but the amount of homes for sale is still modestly below a balanced market. Therefore, new home construction is still needed to keep prices and housing supply healthy in the long run,” Yun added.

Earlier this month, NAR reported new home construction activity is currently insufficient in most of the U.S., and some states could face persistent housing shortages and affordability issues unless housing starts increase to match up with local job creation.

Distressed homes4 – foreclosures and short sales – accounted for 11 percent of May sales, down from 18 percent in May 2013. Eight percent of May sales were foreclosures and three percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value in May, while short sales were discounted 11 percent.

Summer Events

We are 5 days into summer – and, so far, the weather is cooperating beautifully!  Each year I look forward to the many cultural events offered in the Pioneer Valley during the summertime.  I thought it would be fun and useful to compile a list of upcoming events here on our blog:

1.  Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival.  June through August.  Becket, MA

2.  The Blanford Fair, August 29th – September 1st.  Blanford, MA

3.  The Brimfield Antique Show.  July 8th-13th, September 2nd – 7th.

4.  The Borrowed Talents Craft Fair and Show.  July 27th and 28th.  Chicopee, MA

5.  The Cummington Fair, August 21st – 24th.  Cummington, MA

6.  The Green River Festival.  July 12th-13th.  Greenfield, MA

7.  The Franklin County Fair, September 4-7th.  Greenfield, MA

8.  The Heath Fair, August 15th – 17th.  Heath, MA

9.  The Three County Fair.  August 29th – September 1st.  Northampton MA

10.  The Stockbridge Summer Arts and Crafts Show.  August 16th – 17th.  Stockbridge, MA

11.  The Big E,  September 12th – 28th.  Springfield, MA

12.  The Westfield Fair, August 16th – 18th.  Westfield, MA

13.  Transperformance “Off the Map”.  August 26th.  Look Park, Florence, MA

14.  Florence Music on the Porch Series.  Thursdays through August.  Florence, MA

15.  Don’t miss the Family Fourth Celebration at Look Park in Florence this Saturday, June 28th!

 

Enjoy!

 

 

 

371 Main Street in Ashfield MA

DSCN0393 Right in the center of scenic Ashfield MA sits this diamond-in-the-rough, 317 Main Street.  A 5 bedroom, 2 bath, 2866 sf family home on nearly an acre of land.  The original house was built in 1780, while a large addition was added roughly 100 years later.  The architectural style is Colonial revival with a farmhouse flare.  While the house will need some work, it has many lovely architectural details:  slate roof (in good condition!), built in cabinetry, tin ceilings, original wood floors, a beadboard pantry and an wonderful country sink, a front porch as well as a porch off of the second floor – all set upon a 0.96 acre lot in the heart of downtown Ashfield.   DSCN0392     Home to many artists and artisans – Ashfield is a lovely hill town with a charming downtown center, boasting The Double Edge Theatre, Elmer’s Store and restaurant, Ashfield Lake, and the DAR State Forest is just down the road.  Ashfield is home of the wonderful Ashfield Fall Festival, a major destination for locals.  The 30 minute drive to Ashfield from Northampton is the epitome New England charm and beauty – rolling hills, lakes, farmland and stone walls abound.  This wonderful and historic home in the heart of Ashfield is listed for $129,000.  For more information or to set up a showing, please contact Katie Lyons katielyons@mapleandmainrealty.com.