As I write this week’s blog I am in Los Angeles making the best of being stranded on the west coast as a result of the storm back east. I have heard from many of you who were also vacationing in the south or out west and also couldn’t make it home because of canceled flights. Of course, there are worse places to be stranded :)
Even from California I am busy preparing for the spring market, while my assistant Elise works hard helping sellers get their houses ready!
So, let’s start with some good news. Next week we will be showcasing these four fantastic properties. They are each distinctly special - call for information on all of them!
30 Cliff Road, Wellesley
3 Auburn Road, Wellesley
5 Erwin Road Wayland
68 Woodcliff Road
I am thrilled for buyers that come March there will be more houses for them to choose from. Bring it on!!
While it’s a pleasure to see my sellers benefit from this historic market, it’s equally difficult to see buyers, who I care deeply about, fight valiantly to get a house and lose. I represented buyers as we competed against 21 other people for a darling Cape-style house in Wellesley. Clearly the market deemed that this house was underpriced with that many offers. In the end, it was the person who paid cash that won. This is a common story in many of these bidding wars- cash takes it. We experience it time and time again. It can feel so deflating since most people don’t have millions of dollars in cash to buy a house. So what does one do? It’s hard to say. There are no easy answers. Perhaps the wave of inventory that will be launched by brokers in coming days will help people who are financing (which is typical) to have a chance.
There were some excellent national metrics released last week that are worth noting here. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index, which measures average home prices in major metropolitan areas across the nation, rose 18.8% over the 12 months (ending in December), unchanged from the prior month. This calendar-year increase was the highest since since they started reporting in 1987.
Interest rates are also higher with a 30-year average at 3.92% according to the WSJ. Experts think this will really slow down the buying pace, but mostly in areas with lower median home prices and primarily first-time buyers - which is not Boston’s Metro West area.
After writing this blog, it was posted that 35 Sawyer Road, Wellesley which was on for $1.85M closed in a week at $2.7M with a cash offer. This is 32% over asking! The sellers purchased the same house in 2018 for $1.54M and have not made huge capital improvements. So far this is an unprecedented sale, and definitely an outlier statistic worth noting.
Can you believe it’s almost been two years of this frenzy? It started last April right after Covid initially hit. This story is far from over and I will keep documenting what I see. What a wild ride it’s been. Thanks for being there with me!
I felt like jumping for joy last week! Last Wednesday in Wellesley and Weston, 12 listings hit the market at the same time. It felt so good to make the call to buyers that we finally had some properties to tour! As you can imagine the scene in each house was hectic, with streams of people crossing paths in hallways and brokers trailing behind.
I took this photo of a traffic jam in front of an open house at a cute home in Wellesley priced at $1,075,000. Of course it was caused by the attendees at the open house and inspectors in tow conducting pre-inspections. The small ended street was a parking lot with cars stuck and unable to go in any direction.
By the end of the weekend, almost all but 2 of the Wellesley homes went under agreement. And of course, there is talk of the incredible price tags that it took to claim victory in bidding wars. One property was rumored to go 18% over asking.
I spent a good amount of time on the phone today with agents in the San Francisco market, connecting them to a client who is moving out west. One of the agents I spoke with had to call me back because she was presenting an offer for her buyer that was 50% over the asking price with no contingencies (of course). She had seen some houses sell 100% over the asking price in the San Fran suburbs. I still find this just stunning, when you think we would be used to this frenzy by now!
Realtor.com just released a list of the highest benefitting markets in the country. Check out #1, which is in New England - Manchester, NH. I lived in Manchester and met my husband in Manch-Vegas as they jokingly called it. Here is what this tells you - that in this hot market, it's going to be these "secondary markets" that benefit the most from the low inventory and buying rush. Major metro centers will always be in demand as will blue chip towns, but as people realize they are out-priced in those areas or can't even find a house, they will move further out, even to a different state to get what they are looking for. Their criteria may change as the quest for a house takes priority over big details like location. For example, a longer commute won't seem as big an objection as it once did if a buyer is finally able to snag a home after looking for weeks or months with no luck.
I do have some exciting news in Wellesley. I spoke with a landlord today who owns many of the commercial buildings on Central Street, and he is really excited about the new restaurants and shops coming our way. From sushi to Southwestern cuisine to pizza, we will now have even more choices to dine. And in Linden Square they've announced new restaurants including Karma, Oath Pizza, and Tatte. Something to look forward to for sure!
I am off to California with my family this week to visit with my parents and extended family. Lucky us, the weather is warm and sunny! This will be a great recharge to get ready for March - when I promise there are going to be many beautiful houses to showcase!
I received a call this week from a reporter with Bloomberg news who wanted to talk about bidding wars in the high end of the real estate market. As I was being interviewed about the luxury market, I reminded him to not lose sight of the fact that behind these high end homes, there are still people. The families in the multi-million dollar properties are trying to figure out where to go next, and if they will be able to find that place just like everyone else. That means their homes also aren't coming on the market. The stories are pretty similar among each price band, albeit sometimes the robust price tags of $5M and up stay on the market a little longer, as there are less people who can afford them. However, there is one exception to this trend; a price range that is writing its own chapter.
The weekly chart of inventory in our towns is becoming something we are getting used to. Seeing this week-to-week helps shed some perspective on what is happening. New listings trickle on, but come March I am predicting a rush of new properties. It most likely won’t be enough for everyone, but will help!
What is disappearing both in our area and across the country are smaller single family homes. Each time a client calls with aspirations to buy for under $1M in the metro west area, my heart breaks because the inventory is so limited and our search is bound to be a tough one.
Jeff and I bought in Wellesley in 2006. The house was an adorable 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath stunner with a family room, and we paid $770,000 (we were in a bidding war with 7 other people, even then!). That house traded after us, pre-pandemic for $1.2M with not many capital improvements.
Elaine Bannigan, who was my real estate agent and got me into this biz, owns Pinnacle Residential Properties and just released her comprehensive report on the Wellesley-Weston market. She said it really well - "Young families yearn for this possibility (buying their first small house.) Yet, it's vanishing in America. In 1982, 40% of the newly constructed homes were entry level. By 2019, the annual share had fallen to 7%. The decline has been as 'steady as a metronome,' says Freddie Mac's chief economist. It's a huge problem if you think about the fact that home equity accounts for the bulk of wealth for the overwhelming majority of Americans." This was a very interesting perspective I wanted to share, from a great report.
I also wanted to follow up on our "hot' listing in Belmont at 82 Country Club Lane. In the end, we negotiated 6 strong offers, and the winner was an incredible one that I am happy to share when it closes. That buyer crafted a bid that could not be refused. They stepped up to the plate in an impressive way and landed their dream home. A great strategic move by them, and congrats to my sellers!
I won't complain about mortgage rates each week, I promise, but maybe just a little this week. I literally felt like I was watching the rates go up in real time. I know the mortgage brokers were, and they aren't happy to make those calls to clients. In North Carolina I locked in two properties at 4.25% and then another the next day at 4.325%. One year ago my rates were 3.3%. These are investor rates, and if you are buying your primary residence they are much lower. A 30-year fixed (jumbo loan) can be found around 3.125% according to US Bank and the adjustables are lower at 2.625%. Still historically low!
Finally, let's end on some fun houses! We toured amazing homes this week and color was everywhere!! Neutrals aren't the only game in town anymore. It's fun and refreshing to see people take chances in their decorating. Here are a few samples including one of our coming soon properties in Wellesley.
Have a great week! Keep your comments coming. I always love hearing from you.
As I write this, there are only 8 houses on the market in Wellesley, 5 Needham, and 17 in Weston. It's quite interesting that Weston has so many more homes for sale, but they are mostly over the $3M mark and have been on MLS for an average of 150 days. Weston has almost 1/3 the population of Needham/Wellesley, yet the market there is traditionally just a little bit slower than the surrounding towns.
In Belmont, we just listed a beautiful classic colonial built in the 1930’s and loaded with charm. We had 12 showings Thursday, and nearly 30 parties on Friday, which included an open house. With the snow, the seller decided not to host any appointments or open houses today, so we will work around the storm. The plan is for business to resume on Sunday, and offers to be reviewed Monday at 1pm. This should give buyers plenty of time to see the house, have a pre-inspection if they choose, and put together a thoughtful offer.
The Feds will raise rates again in March, so there will be another uptick of the mortgage rates in the coming months. Clearly the increase a few weeks ago had no impact on our market. Perhaps there is a slight sense of even more urgency to lock in a rate before they inch up again, but with no houses for sale it’s tough for buyers to have that kind of control. A mortgage broker did remind me this week though, that even if we get to 4%, that is historically low.
As some of you may know, my passion for real estate is also channeled into being an investor. Owning single family homes and then renting them out has helped me become an even stronger Realtor and like you, I have had the same experiences trying to buy properties. Inventory is incredibly low in North Carolina, where we have most of our investments. To buy a property, I also am in bidding wars. It’s a little different down south because your “due diligence” or earnest money that accompanies a signed offer goes directly to the seller. They get to keep it whether you follow through with the closing or pull out. Buyers are putting down tens of the thousands of dollars of non-refundable money to be the winner. It’s a risk. I'm always happy to share my experiences as an investor, so please reach out!
That being said, rents are going up just as fast as housing prices. People are desperate to get into rentals and one of the biggest reasons is because they can’t find houses to buy so they are sitting out of that game for the time being. I hear from a lot of folks that they would rather rent now and wait for the market to cool down. If I only had a magic ball, but I don’t think it’s going to settle any time soon. It’s going to take a lot of houses hitting the market at once for the pace to regulate. I don’t see that happening very quickly.
Finally, I wanted to end with a tip. People have asked me lately whether it’s worth cleaning up their homes, doing some projects, or staging before we list their house, since houses consistently go quickly. My answer is always - yes! It does make a difference because a property that is well cared for and cleaned up is always going to appeal to more buyers. In the end you will see a higher selling price. A house filled with clutter won’t resonate with buyers because they won’t envision themselves living there. When telling the story of your home, we have to keep in mind how emotional this is for the buyers too. Their new home will be the backdrop to their lives - not yours.
Have a great week. Keep warm and enjoy the snow. I escaped to Florida for a few days and the vitamin D from the sun helped me so much. I am ready to take on the SNOW!
Off topic - MGS Group is looking for a transaction coordinator and a full-time showing assistant. If you or someone you know may be a good fit for either of those jobs, let me know. I would love to hear from you!
Could this year turn out to be even tighter than 2021 when it comes to the housing supply? I am afraid it could be!
For example; as I write this, there are 7 houses listed for sale in Needham and that will most likely go down to 3 after new ones are quickly sold over the weekend. Wellesley has 9 properties on MLS, and the same thing will happen by Sunday. I guarantee that at least half of those homes will go under agreement in a matter of days.
That said, it is still early in the spring market. We hit our peak selling season in spring from March to April, so I promise we will see an inventory increase by then. March is when most of my listings will be coming on, so that is encouraging to me. How much more robust will the inventory become overall? I think we have to wait and see. It is just too hard to predict that right now.
On the buyers side, I found myself in bidding wars last week with a few clients who are SO ready to jump in. In two of those competitions, it was cash buyers who bid the highest and won, cutting out more than a dozen other potential winners. Cash may be king, but it is not what most people can offer. Coming up with $2M from your bank account to pay for a house is not an easy task for people. It's just another detail that complicates this crazy process when you are a buyer.
As we discussed last week, the federal government is attempting to get buyers attention in the form of a rate hike, but even that isn't affecting their intense desire to buy. I wouldn't say that people are ignoring the news about rates. Rather, they are readjusting and considering adjustable mortgages which offer lower rates for the first 7-10 years of the loan. Listen, nothing is going to stop that incredible need to get settled into a house!! Not rates, and not Covid.
Covid didn't stop me, but it did slow me down. I am a little late to the blog this week because after caring for my three daughters who tested positive in December, I had it this week! Ugh!!! Today is my first day out from quarantine and I will say, it was more than a common cold. It wiped me out in terms of having extreme fatigue, so take care not to get it if you can. Nobody wants to feel sick, and stopping all your daily activities for 6 days while you don't feel well is quite the juggling act for everyone. Stay healthy!!
I knew that this week's update would have to start with the very unsexy topic of interest rates. How could it not when they jumped up so significantly this week?
The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate loan was 3.22%, up a lot more from a year ago when rates were roughly 2.75%. It's expected that they will rise again come March, and inch closer to 4%.
Some worry that this will not help the housing market at all, but instead will give potential sellers one more reason to stay put if they are locked into a good rate at their current home and don't want to lose that. I can relate- there is nothing like getting a good interest rate! It's a victory and saves so much over the life of the loan.
Traditionally in our area, mortgage rate increases don't have serious effects on the market. There are so many other incentives for people to move, and at these higher price points our buyer pool tends to be less sensitive to rate changes.
And come April, fees for buying a second home are going to increase when financing. According to an article on the website, Marketplace, "Redfin estimates that it will cost a typical buyer on a $400,000 home an extra $13,500 as regulators try to get a handle on the housing market." Of course, surf-side and country homes here are a lot more than $400,000 so that number will be much more significant to you. Mortgage brokers in resort areas are using this as a campaign to get people to buy their vacation homes now, but the problem is there is no inventory there either right now. My good friend who is a broker on the Cape shared this perspective. Three years ago there were 3000 homes for sale on Cape Cod, today there are 300!
I was holding my breath this week hoping for new listings in Metro West- a few nice homes came on in each town. Wow, will they be busy! I think the swell of covid cases and the bitter cold may have put off some listings for a few weeks. They will come though, I promise!! In fact I am off right now to meet with potential sellers! Wish me luck! Can't wait to navigate this spring market with you! I hope to entertain you and hopefully educate you in the process.
Stay warm this weekend, it's going to be a cold one!
Happy New Year! We made it to 2022 and I am so excited for all things real estate. There is so much opportunity out there, whether you are buying a private residence or an investment property. It seems that lots of others are also pumped for the new year, since articles are popping up left and right with predictions of where the national market will go. I have seen some sources write of home prices going up anywhere from 7-24% in the next year. In due time we will learn the truth, so stay tuned right here for real time updates each week.
What I do know is that the desire to move is still very much alive in buyers! The brokerage community is abuzz with agents sharing their buyer's specific needs on group chats and private internet groups. Declarations of new listings aren't as prevalent sadly, but it's still early. I guarantee there will be new inventory - maybe not as many houses as we would like, but they will come! People are recuperating from the holidays, and the new Covid frenzy has others trying to figure out their next move.
This is also the time of year that designers release what they see as the next trends in design.
UGH!!! I will not be painting any room in my house this color. Sometimes I wonder if they pick the colors that were selling the worst in order to pick up paint sales. There is a place for purple, but I'm not sure it's at home. Maybe I will change my mind.... we shall see. The other current styles in design tend to be earthy and textured accents which feels really good to me. Those kinds of pieces feel really authentic and homey when we need it most.
I know you have probably seen real estate agents and their companies broadcasting all of their 2021 accomplishments on social media. I guess we all feel a sense of victory making it to the finish line after such an emotionally charged year. I also want to share the MGS Group highlights. It's a nice example of this one of a kind brokerage and I am excited for you to be a part of it!
I'll have more information next week on the market as it slowly heats up, and I am working on some critical year end numbers. Stay safe and healthy!
I hope in 2022, the reason you buy a home isn’t to escape sickness, but to relax when you are healthy.
In 2022 I want your home to be a place where you celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations with as many people as you want!
In 2022, I hope your home is where you can invite in the people you love, that you are able to open your space to new friends and old friends. Lots of them!
I hope 2022 allows you to smile and laugh in your home, and that home is not the setting for quarantines, home tests, and recuperating from vaccine boosters.
In 2022, I hope your motivation to buy or move isn’t driven by finding a suitable place to facilitate school or work at home, or avoid sickness. Instead, I hope it's to find a place to expand your family or downsize, a place to go crazy decorating, cook big dinners, and make lots of warm memories.
And finally, my 2022 wish is to be there helping you land or sell that fabulous house; because as we've learned the past couple of years, there truly is “no place like home.”
I wasn't going to write my blog this week, but last weekend's real estate story was just too good not to share. So this will be my last update of 2021!
Sunday night, my buyers entered into a bidding war on a Dover, MA property. They were one of 20 offers on the house, which was listed at $1,195,000. Yes, 20 offers in the middle of December. The agent reports about 53 showings over 3 days, and the line of cars on the street certainly supported that claim. My client bid 16% over the asking price and came in second! Ugh!!!! While at the Jingle Ball (a concert for teens at TD Garden) with my kids, I delivered the news that despite offering an incredible deal, we were the first runner up and it wasn't enough to take the prize. The Jonas Brothers were the background music to the scene.
It's not that the demand for houses has increased that dramatically, but there are even fewer new listings being introduced this time of year, and buyers don't want to wait until 2022 if they don't have to. In fact, I had 7 closings this month alone which is a lot compared to other Decembers. Those buyers and sellers are so happy to be settled before the holidays!
Perhaps the current raging rate of Covid cases combined with the new variant are going to infuse just a little bit more hysteria into the market. We have all seen that the more we stay home, the crazier people get about wanting a new and different primary residence or vacation home.
Today while preparing for business in 2022 with my assistant Elise, we were encouraged by the number of sellers who have talked to us about listing their houses next year. To that we say, anything to help satisfy the buyers appetite is welcome! Bring it on!!! Let's gooooo!!!!
It's been quite a year for me professionally, navigating a climate never seen before in the real estate world, leaving my firm of 16 years, and joining MGS Group. Life is now settled and we are ready for what 2022 is going to bring us! I know it's going to be a good one, and I look forward to having you along for the ride.
Have a wonderful holiday with friends and family, and I hope you get the down time you deserve. See you in 2022!
This week, I wanted to follow up on last week's blog where we talked about new properties that hit the market. Wow, the response was incredible and I am happy to report the results.
This beauty at 88 Manor Avenue that we listed for $2,095,000 had many, many showings and a super crowded open house! Cars lined up and down the street as many buyers came to see this gorgeous listing. We established a tight offer deadline, and had a handful of bids that followed three "pre-inspections". Ultimately it will trade for over asking.
27 Standish Road in Wellesley also came on market last week for $1,350,000 and was shown consistently each day. The open houses there were packed as well! In the end, the seller received more than a dozen offers. You can bet with that type of interest it will ultimately sell for close to 20% over the asking price.
Once again, this type of robust activity in December is astonishing - this is historically our slowest month of the year. This frantic market will spill right into the holidays and onto the other side of the new year, with no signs of slowing down. Experts will make their predictions for 2022, and some say prices will continue to go up - which I agree with. Others feel confident that a slight correction is in our future, but I don't see how that's possible with this type of demand still out there.
I am about to head out with a buyer to see a new listing in Dover where offers are due this Sunday. I really think we will have to partake in the multiple offer dance on this one too. My clients have lost out on a number of houses (before they started working with me 😉), so I hope to end their losing streak this weekend if they like it!
I snagged this article off of the internet about the places which are most likely to have the hottest housing markets for 2022. The cities listed are primarily smaller emerging markets. In the end, those are the areas that have benefited the most from the last few years. You will notice that Worstester, MA is on the list. I know a lot of investors have had their eye on Worcester, and it will pay off for them.
Finally, I wanted to share my book club's list of favorite books from 2021! Each person submitted their recommendation, and if you are a reader I hope this helpful in picking your next read. My mantra at home to my kids is...."read, read, read." Sadly, they don't listen and we don't have a reader among us, but there are some really good Tik-Tok-ers in our house! Oh well, they know I tried.