Wellesley & Weston Real Estate News

Nov. 19, 2021

Market Update - Week of 11/15/21

A Thankful Realtor's Ode to Clients
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far! It's centered around all of the things that make us happy - family (most of the time) and food (all of the time). Of course, I am thankful for this wonderful career and my buyers and sellers. So this week's blog is for you! 
To our Buyers,
Thank you buyers for hanging in there during this incredible, frenzied and powerful market.
Thank you for digesting that in one year prices went up 50% in some markets! 
Thank you for being decisive and knowing in 20 minutes if this is the house you'll spend the next ten years in.
Thank you for stepping up when you needed to for your family.
Thank you to your mortgage brokers for all of those pre-approval letters we asked for at 10pm on a Tuesday night.
Thank you to the inspectors for inventing the "pre-inspection", and we are sorry your business has been derailed since inspections are being waived on all houses (yes, including antiques from the 1800's!).
Thank you for rescheduling work meetings and dinners out, and postponing the kids' naps to run out and see houses.
Thank you for understanding that the word "contingency" has grown to be a dirty little word on an offer these days.
Thank you for realizing that house-buying has been more like an E-bay auction these days.
Thank you for wearing your masks and taking your shoes off in some houses, and not needing your mask and keeping your shoes on in others.
Thank you for always putting your best foot forward in a bidding war, and understanding when you don't get it.
Thank you for adapting to this low inventory, and widening your searches to include multiple towns so that we have houses to look at.
Thank you for keeping your cool when agents say offers are due Monday, but the seller takes an offer the Friday before at 3pm.
Thank you for your understanding when you ask me, 'how much is this house worth?' and I reply that I can't say for sure, since they are going up to 20% over asking.
Thank you for bidding 10-20% over asking so you get that house.
Thank you for waking up the next morning and being OK with paying 10-20% over asking.
Thank you for always asking me, 'will this crazy market end soon?', and being cool when I say, "no".
Thank you for your sense of humor. 
To our Sellers,
Thank you for listing your house (and I know all of the buyers say, "You are welcome!"). Haha!
All jokes aside, we are so thankful to our sellers, who trust us to represent them and their home with the absolute highest standards.
In this historic market, we can all agree that has certainly been easier to be a seller, who can almost guarantee that their home will sell quickly if it's priced right. We also know that this market has been exhausting and trying for our buyers, who face unparalleled competition in their search for a home.
We are so appreciative of each and every one of you who has entrusted us to navigate these crazy times together.
And of course, we couldn't forget our weekly market numbers. Check out this weeks trends:
Best of luck to everyone preparing for Thanksgiving next week! I hope it is a wonderful time filled with family, friends, good drinks, and great food.
Nov. 13, 2021

Market Update - Week of 11/8/2021

The tale of my buyers and their plight to find a house is an interesting perspective on the market, and one they have encouraged me to share. Their journey so far shows the incredible strength of the market that shows no signs of weakening. That said, you must keep your sense of humor and determination, which we have- we keep on smiling and laughing, and we all know when the right house comes on it will be theirs! However, the road to get there is an interesting one.
The subjects of this story are an endearing young couple moving to Massachusetts from New York City, and I cherish them as clients! They are realistic about what money can buy you in Massachusetts (check out this article). They are willing to do work to a property, despite having a super busy household that includes two working parents, a toddler and a baby on the way. Our target towns are Wayland and Concord, and the good news is there have been quality properties to see in these locations!
The bidding segment of this story is where it gets interesting. It offers a fantastic insight into what buyers are dealing with in real time...
House #1 - Concord
They saw it and she liked it, he loved it! The problem here is that dozens of other people felt the same way - buyers had good taste all around. This cute Cape Cod style house has a lovely addition off of the back and a nice yard. You can walk to Concord Center from the home - it's a favorite neighborhood in town.
  • Asking Price $1.5M
  • 2700 SF 
Result
This was our first offer and the buyers were cautious in their bidding. We went slightly over asking, and had an inspection contingency. Others who were participants in this round had clearly lost out on other properties already, and were taking no chances. There were 16 offers, and that house will close into the $1.8M's as we were told by the selling agent. This closing price will be roughly 18% over asking!! This is well above the average of 10-15% higher than the listing price, what properties typically sell for in a robust bidding situation. 
House #2 - Wayland
A young house in wonderful condition on a country road in Wayland.
  • Asking Price $1.5M
  • 3753 SF 
Result
The buyers put in a strong offer more than 10% over asking with no contingencies. The closing date was flexible in order to entice the sellers even more. This time we were one of three offers. The sellers came back for a best and final to the top two offers - we made the cut which was quite exciting! We were asked if the owners could rent back for a few weeks which my clients graciously agreed to. Despite their flexibility, the broker came back with bad news - the seller had given it to another buyer. This outcome felt quite unfair to me. They put my sweet clients through a lot of back and forth, and yet didn't reward them with the prize. This was a big disappointment for all, and there was a tall glass of chardonnay waiting at the end of that evening. 
House #3 - Concord
Another classic home in Concord. This property was more of a project, and the home's potential was intriguing with its large rooms and sprawling yard. Sometimes it's easier to know your upper limit in a bidding war when you are planning on doing work, since you have to factor in how much the renovations can cost.  
  • Asking price $1.55M
  • 3257 square feet
Result
We offered more than 10% over asking- this time with an inspection for informational purposes. The house had its quirks, and this couple would sleep better knowing an inspector gave his/her blessing. 
The call came in hours after the offers were due, and someone had bid well into the $1.8M's with no contingencies at all. Once again, a house sold 18% over asking. Not as much of a disappointment this time around, as the work that the house needed seemed daunting.
The diary of a buyer is helpful in seeing what people are up against when a house is in demand. I am not discouraged, and neither are they! We all know we will land the right house at the right time. Typically it is the determined who have already lost out on a few properties who ultimately step up and overbid enough to win - frustration is their fuel.
I spoke with other brokers today from many different firms who said they are wrapping up 2021 and don't have any more listings to present to the market. Their sellers are all waiting until the new year. Let's see this as a time to reset and gear up for January! We will all be refreshed and ready to rumble come 2022!
Nov. 5, 2021

Market Update - Week of 11/1/21

Glimpsing below at how many houses are going under agreement in Metro West, and you would never know it is actually November; one would think we were at the height of the spring market! The weather is brisk and so is the activity in the real estate market - no signs of letting down here it seems. There are serious buyers in all price ranges chomping at the bit to get their house. Buyers are pulling out all the stops (or I should say, dropping all contingencies) to get the right property.
Last night I had the pleasure of telling one buyer's agent their client was the top bidder on a listing, and they had won! The agent screamed with joy, "I love you, Teri." That was a first! Other agents were understandably not as happy to hear their clients had lost that round, and it was a tough call to make. I was on the other end of that line this week when my buyer did not get the house they liked. It's heartbreaking to share that news when they have put their best foot forward.
A big headline this week is that Zillow pulled out of the e-buy game. They are no longer going to try and sell houses, and to be honest I never thought that model would work. The real estate firms who call themselves "technology" firms have missed the point. We are in the people business, not the technology sector. Real estate has so many nuances and moving parts - not to mention a huge emotional component to it. What we do is so multi-faceted, and can't be effective or valuable for you if it's done solely through a website. Even Zillow is now admitting that. As my partner Maggie Gold Seelig so eloquently says, "in the end, think about who you want to have the keys to your house, who do you trust?" The internet is a great tool for finding concrete information on sales, prices, taxes, appraisals and photos. How you interpret that information and what you do with it is where skill, intelligence, creativity and hard work comes in. A successful sale can't be done without those key ingredients.
Since it's November and Thanksgiving is just weeks away, we will most likely see fewer listings come on. At this point, many people will wait until after the new year to list. But it's a different world full of surprises, so the real estate market may keep chugging along at this historically fast pace. If it does, you will hear about it here first! 
Have a great week!! I am going "Goat Hiking" tomorrow. LOL!! Will share more about it in next week's blog :)
Oct. 29, 2021

Market Update - Week of 10/25/21

We now have the benefit of looking back and evaluating the media's real estate predictions that were made in August and early September. You may remember I shared articles during the late summer insisting that "the market is cooling or calming down." I wasn't buying it as a long term trend, and saw the slower pace as a seasonal respite from the buying frenzy. The slower pace was a well deserved vacation for buyers and sellers alike who took advantage of a sunny and warm New England summer, and for the moment thought about other things than buying or selling.
Fast forward as fall rolls in, and the intensity is back with bidding wars at every turn. This week I was even in a multiple offer situation with buyers for a luxury property listed only a week ago. The problem is this - not many houses are being introduced to the market each week, so the 'historically low inventory' saga is ongoing. I am making my contribution to the number of houses available, since next week we are introducing a stunning new listing coming in Wellesley. Excited to share.
"Experts" are now back to saying it doesn't look like this bubble is going to burst anytime soon. A CNN post I read online states that Zillow projects national home prices will slow, but not start to decline. The company sees 13.6% growth from September 2021 through September 2022, a faster pace of increase than its previous forecast. Goldman Sachs forecasted earlier this month that prices would increase 16% by the end of next yearI w.
For my buyers out there, this is not meant to depress you. We will get there, but we have to adapt to the market. This means not having as much time to digest new listings as we would hope for. Lately I've been saying that we often spend more time looking at a pair of pants we want than the house we are buying! Isn't that crazy?
If you follow me on social media, you probably saw that I just got back from Round Top, Texas! I attended the best high end antique fair in the country, that I know of. Something to check off my bucket list, I was with a good friend (check out her design site here!). The week perfectly blended my love of houses and design. Here are a few takeaways from the dozens of designer booths we visited.
And these trends are in the fashion world too! Found this in Harper's Bazaar magazine on the way home. Have an awesome week and Happy Halloween!! Hope it is spooktacular. 

Oct. 22, 2021

Market Update - Week of 10/18/21

Hello!!! It feels so good to be writing my blog again. My transition to MGS Group is complete, and fantastic!!
THANK YOU to everyone for your incredible support and kind words over the last few weeks. I am so excited to open our Wellesley office, and can't wait to share the address soon. 
We were right off to the races last week, putting 3 properties under agreement and launching a new listing today - with more to come.
So, let's talk about real estate in the Metro West! Hot, hot, hot- that's what I am seeing for the fall market. There aren't as many showings booked as there were in the spring, because there aren't as many buyers in the fall - which we have talked about. 
Houses to buy are still scarce, which explains the impetus for bidding wars. Low inventory is still wreaking havoc in the market and houses are being swept up quickly. This is most apparent when they are priced realistically, and in great condition with tasteful updates and decor. Buyers who are the hungriest are moving aggressively, and writing strong offers in just a matter of hours into the process. It's hard to navigate for brokers and sellers alike. It can be overwhelming trying to decide when offers should be accepted. "Do we wait through the weekend, or take something now?" There is no easy answer to that question. My contacts in the southern part of the country, mostly North and South Carolina where I am a real estate investor, agree with me; they also report properties being swept off the market immediately in their regions.
Mortgage rates are creeping up, and are expected to do so throughout 2022. You can expect to see a 3.5% rate for a thirty-year fixed mortgage next year. The average 30-year fixed rate moved from 2.99% to 3.05% this month - its highest price point since April. Freddie Mac's chief economist said on October 14, inflationary pressure due to the pandemic and tightening monetary policy is what will push rates higher. 
 I think that this strong market is here to stay. The emotional punch that people feel when they walk into what they hope will be their forever home is priceless, and is one of the biggest drivers of this market. Houses are the backdrop to our lives, for better or worse. The pause from everyday life that we've experienced over the past two years has driven that notion home to us all. Our collective reaction to this has caused a housing burst like we have never seen.
If you haven't already checked in with me, please do! I want to make sure that I have your email since I changed addresses. I feel very reflective these last few weeks, and I am so incredibly thankful for my friends, clients, and family that make my life richer. Thank you!

 

Sept. 30, 2021

Market Update - Week of 9/27/21

As many of you know I am a former television journalist, so I am always looking at ANY headline with a healthy dose of skepticism. I don’t assume that they’re wrong, but I like to question everything to find the story behind the story.
When I see headline after headline about the market softening, I am skeptical, because my experiences here do not indicate a startling shift just yet. An adorable house in a very desirable Concord neighborhood was listed for $1,495,000 and created a frenzy of interest. With an offer deadline set for 4 days after it hit the market, there were 8 offers submitted. The house ended up going for almost 20% higher than the asking price. You can bet that there was not an inspection or financing contingency on that offer.
Other newly listed houses in the area are selling in a matter of hours if the broker is not holding offers off for a few days. You will notice that more houses for lingering than were sold last week. I continue to think it's more a symptom of the fall market, which is just slower and has less buyers. (Wayland was the exception- my hometown continues to impress with it's robust market!)
What we can't deny is that the mortgage rates are creeping up, and continue to do so as the news about the economy remains positive. This week an average 30-year fixed rate was 3.10% versus 3.03% just last week! This will put a dent in refinances - but we typically aren't terribly affected here by interest rates.
I am writing this week's blog from gorgeous Provincetown, Cape Cod. I love to follow the market on the Cape and of course love to check out houses for sale here. According to the Warren Group (a real estate watch group) - 
 
Houses on Cape Cod have shot up an average of 30.2% since the first half of 2020! 
In two years, prices rose an incredible 52% in Martha's Vineyard!
I look forward to apple picking this weekend with my clients! It will be good to connect with everyone! If I don't see you there, have an amazing week.
Sept. 26, 2021

Market Update - Week of 9/20/21

I know you have been waiting for this day to come… as of this week, I am reporting that the market is cooling down just a bit. Thanks to everyone for the steady stream of articles you’ve sent me saying just that! The National Association of Realtors (NAR) provided confirmation of this trend with their recent data report. That being said, I was in two bidding wars this week and our buyers were lucky enough to land one! Here we are at the inspection. The key here is strategic pricing; if you start at a reasonable figure, demand continues to drive the value up. Properties presented at the top of the price range tend to sit on the market longer and ultimately sell lower than the seller expected.
All of this considered, my personal observation is that buyer traffic has become less frantic than in recent months. NAR reports that last month the average number of offers per property decreased from 4.5 to 3.8 on a typical home. Of those taking the plunge and buying a house, only 29% of them are first-time homebuyers nationally. This group seems to have lost some of their motivation - they typically make up 40% of the market. But who can blame first-time buyers? Fatigue has set in after battling to win a house for so long!
Typically, low interest rates are enough to really incentivize buyers, and it's still a key ingredient to the frenzy we have seen - but it's not everything. Attractive interest rates don't help if someone has lost bidding war after bidding war. As I write this, the Federal Reserve released this announcement:
 "In light of those expectations, the committee voted unanimously to keep short-term rates anchored near zero. However, a majority of members now see the first rate hike happening in 2022. In June, when members last released their economic projections, a slight majority put that increase into 2023."
If you ask me, I think a cooling down period is to be expected. Barring any crazy events happening in this world, a shift closer to normalcy isn't a bad thing. After all, this wild rush in real estate was brought about by a pandemic that shattered so many peoples’ worlds. If the population becomes healthier, calmer, and more well-rounded, then the real estate market will also recalibrate. This cool-down will allow more inventory to build, and anxious homebuyers to land the property they deserve.
Sept. 16, 2021

Market Update - Week of 9/13/21

We are two weeks or so into the fall market, and as far as I can tell there are still no signs that it is slowing down. Houses continue to go under contract just days after being presented. Realtors continue to report that buyers are taking aggressive strategies to snag a newly listed property, and they are seeing multiple offers on many of their listings. One new property in Wellesley had 5 pre-inspections, meaning potential buyers inspected the property before making an offer. Buyers typically do this so that they feel comfortable dropping the inspection contingency from their offer, in an effort to become a more attractive option when the seller decides who will get the house.
The fall buyer profile changes dramatically from the buyers we see in spring. Most families with school-age kids have already rushed to find their new homes in the first half of the year so they can be settled in for the start of the academic year. In the fall, the demographic of buyers tends to be people without that constraint. They are more free to move whenever it fits their timeline. While I was out at open houses over the weekend, I saw a steady stream of visitors at different properties. Truly no signs of this historic market slowing down yet.
This week's numbers demonstrate that inventory remains low in all towns throughout the MetroWest area. The number of houses on the market has increased slightly, edging towards 30 in some towns, but still not as robust compared to other years. If we don't get new houses on the market by year end to fill this void, the demand will be quite powerful after the holidays, and the cycle will continue. Good news for sellers and probably frustrating for househunters.
Just how how much are homes appreciating? Corelogic, which provides consumer information reports, found that home prices increased 18% year over year in July in the US. No states posted an annual decline in home prices. The areas with the highest increases year-over-year were Idaho (33.6%), Arizona (28.4%), and Utah (25.7%).
 In my house we are dancing for joy over the fact that the kids are back to school! This simple routine brings us all so much happiness- the kids need that normalcy, and so do Mom and Dad. I hope the beginning of the season is a good one for you too! Have a great week!!
Sept. 3, 2021

Market Update - Week of 8/30/21

Hey sellers, let's get this party started! Buyers who are on the sidelines are ready to see some new listings. They are tired of getting lackluster alerts on their phone featuring very few new listings. What has come on continues to prove the theory that price matters.
A very interesting property with a big red barn in the back came on the market last week, at a very reasonable price. The house needed work, but was lovingly cared for. A dozen offers later it sold for about 17% over asking. So, when people ask if the frenzy has calmed down, the answer probably won't satisfy them.
For some properties there will always be a lot of interest. Also don't forget that bidding wars have always occurred in the real estate market, even before 2021.
As a real estate agent who works with investors, and is an investor herself, I am always keeping a watchful eye on the rental market as well. According to a Wall Street Journal article, rents for new leases on single family homes are up 13% over last year. For those who are renewing their stay, landlords have been more conservative by only hiking rents about 5%. Many of those who missed out on houses this year are turning to renting, so the demand is incredibly high.
What I do love about this time of year is watching all my clients move to their homes. Fall is such a great time to refresh so much in our lives, and what's better than creating the warmth of the season in your new home.
With kids back to school, fall in the air, and the promise of the market delivering for buyers, I am hopeful for a great fourth quarter!

 

Aug. 27, 2021

Market Update - Week of 8/23/21


 
Last week we took a hard look at the local real estate numbers- now, let's get an update on what is happening nationally.
According to the National Association of Realtors:
  • Existing home sales from June to July rose 2% nationally. 
  • The year to year median in the US was up 17% 
The market continues to be quite competitive in the lower price ranges and less of a frenzy in the upper tier of houses. There were very few houses nationally (comparatively speaking) under $500k. Simply put, that means properties that would have been priced below that threshold have now been pushed upward past the $500K mark.
Looking at the appreciation nationally, NAR lists Pittsfield, MA as being the TOP metro area in the US for price growth in the second quarter. Wow!! The median existing-home price soared 47% to $321,000 there. I have mentioned Pittsfield in past blogs too. If you are working from home, why not do it from the Berkshires?
Next week school starts, and then we are into Labor Day. After that our secondary real estate market begins. It's a whirlwind of a market that peaks around Halloween, and quiets down through the holidays. Most of the buyers in the fall are in-town trade-up buyers who are not affected by a school schedule, and empty nesters or young families coming from the city. It will be interesting to see how many listings come on during this time. This week's inventory numbers around our area demonstrate that the housing demand is still high, and inventory is historically low. So if you are still wondering, I absolutely recommend getting your house on and reaping the benefits of this amazing market. 
Happy back to school, enjoy the end of summer and I'll be back next week!
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