Category Archives: Selling a Home

Tips on Selling a Home

One Critical Ingredient to a Successful Short Sale: Your Lawyer

Mortgages are, for most people, the biggest risk and debt they take on in this life. The housing bubble causing rapid gain in property value and the laxity of the financial sector in it’s loan practices contributed to a huge case of overconfidence in many homeowners. Many thought the home values would continue to skyrocket…an endless source of income. All you need to do is keep refinancing for the rising assessed value of your house. Simple! Plenty of money for home improvements, vacations, interior upgrades etc. When home values plummeted as the Housing Bubble burst, suddenly homeowners found themselves owing a huge mortgage that exceeded the value of the property it was owed on. Not a big deal, if the homeowner had no plans on moving, as long as other factors like expenses, employment, investments etc. continued moderately favorable. The trouble was….they didn’t.

As more and more people lost jobs and discovered that they either couldn’t find a job right away or they couldn’t make what they once did, consumer confidence crashed and mortgages started to go into default. Investors who gambled on a collection of funds based on risky lending practices suddenly found their investments worthless as the number of homeowners in their collection of funds stopped paying their mortgages. Foreclosures shot up. That glut of foreclosures has been steadily pounding the housing market, reducing home values in their areas, crippling bank’s profit margins and destroying the foreclosed homeowner’s credit. With continuing shaky employment numbers and a weakly stabilizing housing market, consumer confidence is still mighty low. Major purchases are being put off unless it’s absolute necessity. Home Improvement Industry, Retailers and the Manufacturing Sector have felt the brunt of this badly, resulting in more layoffs, reductions and a renewed cycle of uncertainty.

Home prices have fallen so dramatically from their peak, that nearly 30 million people have negative equity. They owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth. Like I said earlier, if other factors remain the same, the best option for many is to stay in the home until the market shifts. It always shifts. Experts are currently predicting the shift back to profitability to up-swing between now and 2015 when it really begins to gain traction. What do you do if the situation has reached crisis proportions now and you just can’t wait for the light at the end of the tunnel?
To try and escape “Underwater” Mortgages, many utilized the short sale option. Short sales are nasty, messy processes, but considering the economy, the financial market and the housing market, you should know how they work.

In years past, a major issue with using short sales has been that under IRS law, a homeowner owes taxes on the “income” gained from discharging debt on their principal residence. The Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 lets homeowners exclude that, until the law expires in 2012. This makes short sales far less painful for debtors until the end of this year anyway.

Say a homeowner just can’t pay his mortgage, or is “underwater”, he can ask his lender, or lenders, to accept a short sale. What do you do if your not in that situation? You can still ask, IF….you can prove that house simply can’t be sold for what’s remaining on the mortgage. If the lender or lenders agree, they will accept an offer on the house for less than the value of the mortgage balance. That’s not necessarily selling below market value. A homeowner who paid off his mortgage and sells a house worth $200,000 for $150,000 is not utilizing a short sale. In order for it to be a short sale, the lender has top agree to take on part of the loss on the remaining mortgage balance. For the homeowner and the bank, a short sale is frequently WAY, WAY better than a foreclosure. The bank looses it shirt on home value when entering foreclosure. That doesn’t take into consideration all the time and expense of just beginning the foreclosure process. For the homeowner, a short sale causes less damage for a shorter duration to your credit than a foreclosure would. Once the lender agrees to write off the deficiency(Difference between the short sale price and the loan remainder), GET IT IN WRITING. The agreement isn’t real unless it’s in writing…ever…ever.

Short sales represent a long cumbersome legal process. The best money you can spend would be to hire a real estate lawyer to handle the technical details of the process from start to finish. There’s a lot of back-and-forth banter about minutia in the short sale process. A lawyer will receive far fewer delays, holds, “we’ll get back to you.”’s and such from the bank. More bad news is, sometimes, the lender who agreed to the short sale will demand the seller to pay them back the deficiency, or the difference between the short sale price and the mortgage balance. Never mind that avoiding that was the reason for the short sale in the first place. They do it by classifying the deficiency as 1099 income on the part of the seller, like the seller was their independent contractor. That’s why someone who’s completed a short sale can be taxed on income they don’t owe, and what the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007 was meant to fix until the end of this year.

The ultimate dirty trick is for the lender to pursue debt collection actions against the short seller. If it gets to the point that the short seller suffers wage garnishment, his only hope might just be to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. Never assume a debt is gone unless written confirmation is received, otherwise the seller may still be liable.

Remember, the best money you spend is on the lawyer who represents you and only you, not the bank, the buyer or any other party. Just You! He’s the one who guides you through the process, protects you from the lender and the buyer and the IRS and sets you free from the burden of a crushing underwater mortgage.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise! Contact me today for a market analysis of your house!

Lew McConkey

I service the following towns in South Shore MA: Whitman, Hanson, Brockton, Rockland, Abington, Pembroke, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy MA.

Rosen Realty


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Rosen Realty Inc.

A Whitman MA Realtor – All Real Estate is Local!

Famous Bostonian Speaker of the House on Capitol Hill, Tip O’Neil never spoke truer words. Essentially, a deep understanding of the people and environment in your area of responsibility is essential to providing timely, accurate, cost effective & valuable service. Knowing and understanding the people and the area he was serving , as well as, both of their needs, led him to victory after victory in the political arena. He knew what his constituents(Clients) needed/wanted and delivered consistently.

Real estate is very similar. A Realtor should specialize in an geographic area where conditions are fairly similar and function in a larger territory where those conditions are still common. Living and working in the specialty area, while developing your personal life and your professional network, gives you an in-depth understanding of how a community works, how individuals fit in that community, where the amenities are, what’s available and what’s profitable. That carries over into surrounding communities too.

Each client wants/needs something different. Those interests obviously include the the perfect property, but they also encompass what they need out of the community too. The perfect property could be one of the Hottest New Properties, the Best Over 55 Condos, the Most Valuable Real Estate Deals, Central Locations for Commercial Properties, Great Opportunities for Real Estate Developers, Staging Needs to make your home for sale stand out from the competition in it’s community, housing closest to the best medical services, shopping, fishing and more. Any necessity or interest could be the deciding factor for you on whether one community or another is perfect for you. It’s the Realtor’s responsibility to either know or find out what the client wants/needs out of a community, if it’s available and where to find it.

Ask your Realtor or Real Estate agent:
1. What geographic area do you specialize in?
2. What is your territory? (If they answer: “All of Massachusetts?” Nope, Wrong Answer!)
3. Do you live in the community you serve?
4. How Long?
5. Where to find the things you care about most locally?
6. How do the various comps of the property you’re interested in compare to each other?
7. What are the planned development projects in the area that could affect your property value?

I am licensed to service clients in the entirety of Massachusetts. Since I live and work in Whitman, My specialty is Real Estate in Whitman, Abington, Brockton, Hanson, East Bridgewater, and Halifax. My effective territory is the South Shore. Just how effective would a Realtor from Cape Cod be for someone looking to buy a home in Framingham? Would a Realtor from Worcestor be truly effective for someone selling in Peabody? How often would a Boston Realtor come in contact with septic issues? Would the Realtor from North Adams know a particular house is located near Hanscom Field and right under a flight path?

I and any Realtor or agent, working outside of his chosen territory, would be effective if we put in a lot of extra travel, expense, time and effort to research and understand the core of the community. Then taking that gestalt, the “foreign agent” will need to come up with a workable, profitable(Read: Minimal Expenses) goal and strategy to reach that goal. The local Realtor has all that at his fingertips.

Being a Whitman Realtor means focusing on Whitman and the surrounding towns of Abington, Brockton, Hanson, East Bridgewater, and Halifax. It allows me to offer that deeper understanding of the people and environment in the area and is essential to providing, exactly, the accurate, cost effective and valuable service my clients need and expect. Additionally, it also allows me to develop a deep and dynamic network of local resources to draw on to help my clients overcome the unexpected, in short order.

If you’d like to buy or sell with a Whitman Realtor, specifically, or a South Shore Realtor, in general, please include me and people like me, in the group of Realtors you interview.

Have Fun!

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise! Contact me today for a market analysis of your house!

Lew McConkey

I service the following towns in South Shore MA: Whitman, Hanson, Brockton, Rockland, Abington, Pembroke, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy MA.

Rosen Realty

Quickly & Profitably Selling Your Home, Even in a Buyer’s Market

“Know your opponent and know yourself and you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles. Know one and not the other and you only have half the chance of victory. Know neither and all is lost.” A Chinese philosopher/general, named Sun-Tzu, wrote these thoughts in a book about winning in a challenging environment 3000 or so years ago. Today, they’re still taught in every major military and business school in the world. The book itself, The Art of War, is a treasure from cover to cover.

That quote is the bedrock of success. In the Spring of 2011 Real Estate Market, conditions heavily favor the buyer, so consequently, the seller is at a large disadvantage. There’s a huge inventory of homes available. Foreclosures and short sales are available in most communities. Mortgage rates are low. Desperate sellers are competing viciously to offer the best prices, the best incentives, the best terms etc. Sellers are fighting to win in the most competitive market we’ve seen in decades. It’s not all doom and gloom for the savvy home seller though. The secret is to Know. Know your property, know your market, know your buyers and then act accordingly.

1. Know Thy Marketplace:

Every Market is unique, even at the level of town to town…neighborhood to neighborhood. There’s a bunch of questions that need answers when deciding, first, if you should sell and secondly, how you should sell. How many homes in the area are up for sale? Why? How many foreclosures (on market and pending)? How about short sales? Stay on top of the market. In the current environment, markets are changing more rapidly than ever. A good seller strategy might have lasted months years ago. Nowadays, a seller need to stay updated regularly. Stay updated on monthly sales stats locally. Look at mortgage markets and interest rates. Keep looking at comps, similar properties that sold in the same area over the last two or three months, at most. See the trends and be prepared to react to them in a deliberate, planned response.

Interview real-estate agents. If you’re interested in using an agent or not, many firms, like mine, offer to perform a free comparative market analysis. Collect several firms and get several opinions. Interview them all about listing your home.  Ask advice. Why not, if it’s not costing you? Ask them what they would change. How they would market it? What separates them from their competitors. The age of comps is more relevant now than anytime I can remember in the past. For the Spring of 2011, try to get comps from no more than two months ago, three months max. Anything more and the information is out of date.

Pretend you’re a buyer for a couple of weekends. Check the newspaper, or for open houses in your area on similar properties. Find out how things are going for the property. How long has it been on the market? Any cost reductions? Any recent improvements made? How do they advertise?

Set YOUR price. In a soft market like ours on the South Shore of Massachusetts, the typical strategies that worked in the boom years are falling hard now. You don’t overprice your house to leave wiggle room for negotiating. There’s so many properties on the market, that have spent so much more time on the market, the local inventory of homes probably contains a variety of nice houses with nice prices, wrecks priced dirt cheap and a selection of properties falling somewhere in between.

If you don’t have a Realtor, the local paper, sites like and might be a good source of information on what’s for sale in your area. There are some helpful tools to help get a feel for pricing your house. Check the newspapers and see if they publish a list of houses sold. Compare the homes carefully to make sure they’re apples to apples. Then set a realistic figure. Your goal: to maximize the chances that the perfect buyer will actually see it and respond. Pricing is strategy. Even before the condition of the property or it’s location is noticed, Price is the first criterion most buyer’s consider.

2. Know Thyself:

Competition between home sellers is at it’s highest in a buyer’s market. High inventories mean there’s more homes to choose from for buyer’s to buy. First impressions are just as important in showing a home as they are in a job interview. If your home isn’t neat and well maintained, buyers will drive by. There are a few sellers out there who won’t stage their property correctly, hoping to avoid the expense and just take a lower offer. If the buyer’s keep driving, you won’t get even the lower offer. The home, inside and out, should be neat. Remove clutter, clean what’s already there. Display furnishings and incidentals in such a way as to highlight cleanliness, space and good light.  I’m not suggesting a complete rebuild, although I have seen properties where that was a necessity. Easy ways to make your home stand out and ease a few burdens:

  • Neat, Clean and Tidy Interiors. Treasure accumulated over the years are your treasures. Most should be stored carefully away. Leave some about to hint at the life you enjoyed living there. Remove excess furniture, knick-nacks, etc. Sweep, dust, vacuum, polish and, possibly paint where needed. Fix blemishes like stains, peeling wall paper or paint.
  • Neat, Clean and Tidy Exterior Sweep or pressure-wash walkways and porches. Polish the outdoor metalwork, clean the windows and glass, and replace any burned-out bulbs. Trim grass and bushes and neaten the yard’s layout. Add new mulch where applicable. And, if you can, plant flowers.
  • Work on a marketing plan. Will you sell your home yourself or use a Realtor? Over the past year, time on market has risen a great deal. Home values have declined. If it doesn’t sell right away, at what point will you seek out a professional? Selling it yourself can save you the paying real estate commission, but at a loss of marketing expertise, positioning and energy that your home would otherwise get. Also, buyers are savvy, too. The vast majority have buyer’s agents themselves. “If the seller’s not paying a commission, I’ll just knock off a percentage in the offer.” Like you, they look for every advantage. Work out a physical(invitations/Mailing) campaign and electronic (Internet, email, text) campaign and a face to face campaign. Get the word out.
  • Company Relocation Assistance: A potential source of help might be found in your employer’s HR department. If you’re relocating for work, they may be a great source of all kinds of help from referrals to advice to possibly financial assistance.

3. Know Thy Opponent:
Be relentless in pursing buyers and their agents if they show an interest in the property. I check in with agents and unrepresented buyers for months after we meet at the property. The chase is never over unless the buyer buys something…sometimes not even then.

Not all buyer’s are created equal though. And you want to know who they are, before you agree to anything. Gather information at any opportunity, over the phone, email or face to face. Ask questions. You have a right to know who you’re dealing with, what their goals are and how that affects you. Are they serious or just toe dipping? Is there any little surprises a seemingly innocent buyer has trailing along behind them, like hidden financing costs? Just because your selling, doesn’t mean you don’t have to carefully look at the buyer’s financing. There’s a huge variety of financing vehicles out there to choose from with some pretty wild restrictions and potential costs to the seller. Take some USDA (That’s right…The Dept of Agriculture does have a mortgage vehicle), FHA and VA home loans, the seller pays the points on the loan. Others require the seller to payback of earnest monies the buyer pays at deposit or that the seller covers all the closing costs. Other potential restrictions you need to be aware of are condition of the house. Even cosmetic issues might be required to be repaired, at the seller’s expense, under the conditions of the proposed loan. Planning on flipping a house quickly? Some of these loans require the entity selling the property MUST hold the property for a period of three months from the time of purchase, thereby tying up your capital and exposure while the property just sits…and costs…for three, long months. Understand the different types of financing and what they require of you as a seller, before accepting an offer. It could affect how much profit dollars you net(gross profit-expenses=net profit) in a sale.

Ask your agent or refer to your open house and interview experiences earlier. What incentives might be needed to entice active buyers to respond to you. Besides a low price, incentives for buyers include paying discount points to lower the mortgage rate, paying closing costs or providing flexibility about the move-in date. Eavesdrop on other visitors to open houses to find out if there’s a pattern or an incentive they seem to want — something you could use to entice a potential buyer into a active offerer.

Be patient on lowering the price, if you can. Don’t rush into reducing your asking price. You’ll need to be ready to do it when the time comes. As an agent, that’s a painful, uncomfortable topic to bring up. You’re asking the seller to lower their own property’s worth and by extension your own commission. It’s the duty though. Market’s change rapidly and a successful seller has to be ready to make the tough decisions when required.

Based on all this, your best goal is to offer the best value you can afford to your customer, the buyer. Talk to a Realtor or do the research and outreach yourself and position your property to win. It can still be done, even today.

You need to be knowledgeable, realistic and patient, but ready to act, and you can still sell your home quickly and profitably.

Have Fun!

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise! Contact me today for a market analysis of your house!

Lew McConkey

I service the following towns in South Shore MA: Whitman, Hanson, Brockton, Rockland, Abington, Pembroke, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy MA.

Rosen Realty

The Spring 2011 Housing Boom is Beginning on the South Shore.

Spring in New England is right around the corner. The unrelenting snows have turned to unrelenting rains. The temps have soared from 0 to…above zero. Piles of snow so high it felt as if you were driving through a trench have melted to almost nothing. Birds are singing. Sun is shining, sometimes. Soon the grass will turn green and the Spring buds will bloom.

Already, as expected, Spring Real Estate Market is showing signs of waking up. The market istelf is still a  bit shaky and uncertain. There’s a great deal of solid indicators that it’ll be a lively Spring, though. Personally, client traffic is picking up after a typically slow Winter. Mortgage rates are still amazingly low. Home builders are forecasting, with their own dollars spent, an increase in new home building. Most importantly, Unemployment is is dropping nearly as fast as new unemployment claims. That’s the real indicator of market health.

Checking out the specifics of the towns I specialize in: Whitman, Hanson, Brockton, Rockland, Abington, Pembroke, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy MA., There’s a lot to be really positive about.

Indicative of the strategies followed by the Realtor & Seller/Buyer partnerships in each town, their strategies appear to be working well. Where home prices fell the sharpest, average time on the market dropped the most significantly and overall volume trends rose. Where home pricing held firmest, volume dropped…time on market soared, but most reached a selling price close to the listing price(94-98%). Some of the best news is in Brockton, our strongest local urban center. After a hideous streak of plummeting home prices and shocking volume decreases year over year, Brockton had only a tiny decrease in volume (just 3 properties) over last year in February 2011 and a tiny increase of time on market(just 16 days). Brockton has clearly taken advantage of lowering their For-Sale home pricing to make it an incredibly competitive and active marketplace. That doesn’t look that strong, but it’s impressive, considering Brockton’s 2010 track record. Also, It’s a strong forecast for the surrounding towns as well, which weathered the market downturn pretty well, all things considered.

In short, the Spring of 2011 is looking pretty good for the South Shore Real Estate Market. Have Fun! You know I will.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise! Contact me today for a market analysis of your house!

Lew McConkey

I service the following towns in South Shore MA: Whitman, Hanson, Brockton, Rockland, Abington, Pembroke, East Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Weymouth, Braintree and Quincy MA.

Rosen Realty

October 2010 Home Sale Stats from Abington Massachusetts

In the coming days, we’ll be doing an overview of the home selling market in Abington, Whitman, Hanson, East Bridgewater and Brockton. Today, it’s Abington’s turn.

In October of 2010 there were just 5 homes that closed within the month for $1,426,400 for Abington, Massachusetts. This was an decrease of 2 units as there were 7 homes that closed in October of 2009.
The Average list price for the homes that closed in October of 2009 was $266,310
The Average list price for the homes that closed in October of 2010 was $303,320
The Average sale price for the homes that closed in October of 2009 was $262,065
The Average sale price for the homes that closed in October of 2010 was $413,791
The Average Market time for the homes that closed in October of 2009 was 88 days.
The Average Market time for the homes that closed in October of 2010 was 76 days.

10 homes went under agreement in Abington Massachusetts in the month of October. The average list price of the homes that went under agreement was $279,910.

Lew McConkey
Focused on Home Buyers and Sellers in Brockton, Abington, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax and East Bridgewater

Rosen Realty

Low Cost, Easy Preparations to Sell Your Home

Decided to sell your Home? Preparing, otherwise known as staging, your home can make or break your chances of moving the property. I posted on this a few months ago – Hardest Part Of Staging a New Listing This topic can’t be hammered home enough though. Remember the old job interview maxim? – You only have one chance to make a first impression. Your property for sale only has one too and it’s critical in the current, highly competitive market to make the first impression a clincher. No one buys a house on impulse. Each person who attends an open house or arranges a showing puts more than a dozen homes for sale under a microscope. For a small budget and a little elbow grease, you, the seller, can make or break a potential sale!

Curb Appeal

A buyer’s very first view of the house is extremely powerful. Make sure your home’s exterior is neat and clean. The lawn’s mowed, all bushes, shrubs and trees are trimmed. Buyers are turned off immediately by overgown vegitation. Experienced home builders know that the dampness, darkness and falling debris from close plant life can be a growth medium for mold, moss, insect invation and more! Any bushes or trees that are close to the perimeter of the house should not be taller than the roof line, and have at least 1 or 2 feet between the edge of the bush and any other object, especially the house itself. Adding mulch and trim is great way to dress up your yard. Make sure to remove as many weeds as possible before putting down the mulch.

Exterior of Home

A well maintained exterior wall and roof line says a lot about a home to a prospective buyer. Siding is expensive and painting may be hard, but if your home’s exterior doesn’t encourage the buyer, someone else’s on the list will. Removing bugs, dirt and stains can be very inexpensive. Rent a pressure washer from a local home improvement store and you can pressure wash walls, gutters, decks, driveway, and other walking areas in 1 day. Another common visual problem are rust stains, usually brownish orange stains. There are a number of chemical solutions to this at the local hardware store! While your shopping for this, pick up some outdoor bleach for your wood deck and siding. It’ll remove the mold/moss stains.

Last but not least, bugs are very important to remove as many buyers will lose any good feelings they had about the house just from seeing a bug or two. For short dollars, insect solutions that you spray along the perimeter walls and edges of your doors, windows, patio, sidewalks, and driveway, kills ants, bees, beetle etc on contact and usually lasts at least a couple of weeks. Make sure you pressure wash and remove the stains first. Allow a couple of sunny days to make sure you have a dry surface for the bug treatment.

Interior of Home

Neat interiors are important too. The buyer needs to be able to envision just what life would be like there for them. Overwhelming evidence of your time there can turn off a buyer instantly. Remove all clutter and unusual items. Also get rid of any dirty or broken down furniture and fixtures. Damaged walls, peeling paint or wallpaper signal a potential home buyer that the home maybe a money pit. Throwing stuff away is a very liberating experience and can make a huge difference. Once all clutter is removed, clean and repair everything! Vacuum and mop the floors, use magic eraser to clean scuffs and dirt off the walls, Paint and paper where you need to, Sand and maintain moldings, dust all fixtures and ceiling fans, clean all glass and windows, clean all bathrooms and shower curtains, and bleach any mold or mildew you find in the bathtubs. Also, if you have a screened patio, porch or deck, make sure the screens are in good condition and secured.

Now, at last, your ready to STAGE!

I gave a lot of tips in the post referenced above, Here’s a few more. Remove any personal or family photos hanging on the wall but leave up any art or landscaping framed pictures. Purchase 3 or 4 plants from your local home store to add a nice green color to your home. Try 1 or 2 per room for the living, dining, and patio. Buy New Hand towels to dress up the kitchen and bath and a nice pump hand soap dispenser. Low cost rugs for the living room and hallways might be nice. Lastly, make sure the home smells inviting. Buy just 1 or 2 HIDDEN air fresheners for the entry, and bath. Air fresheners, scented candles, odor sprays, say to a buyer: These people are trying to cover something up.

During Showings

Before the buyers arrive, make sure you turn on all lights and open all blinds. You want the house as bright as possible, since you’ve cleaned all the dirt AND repaired all the visible defects AND redecorated. Also do one final check to make sure there are no dead bugs from when you sprayed the house. If you have a radio, then turn on a good jazz or oldies station and keep the volume low. If you have a large TV, the weather channel with low volume make a great distraction and conversation starter. Who doesn’t love to talk about the weather. Remove or cage all pets and if the buyer is using a Realtor, make sure you leave and let the Realtor show the house! This is extremely important as most buyers feel uncomfortable viewing a home with the owner there! The only time the owner should be at a showing is if the buyers are not with a Realtor.

Final Tips

While cleaning is cheap, R&R (Repairing & Replacing) is sometimes not. If there are material defects that need work, you need to price your home accordingly and disclose that to any potential buyers. Selling a property in need of work happens all the time. There’s a solid business reason to price the house right. You’re in competition with HUNDREDS of other houses in your area. You know how you price common household items at the supermarket. Home Buyers research and price the options that much more deeply. If you need additional help, call your local Realtor or me.

Lew McConkey
Focused on Home Buyers and Sellers in Brockton, Abington, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax and East Bridgewater

Rosen Realty

My House Still Hasn’t Sold Yet?

Some houses that need work sell very quickly, but others, in immaculate condition, stay on the market for months without generating any serious interest among buyers. If you are experiencing difficulties selling your home then there are several common reasons that are most likely to be preventing buyers from paying interest to the property.

The number one reason for a house to remain unsold: it’s been incorrectly priced. With the massive stock of houses for sale, including low cost steals on foreclosures and short sales, and the dearth of active buyers, because of high unemployment, uncertain economy and brutal financing hurdles, the market heavily favors the buyers right now. Simple economics: Huge Supply(Competitive Houses on the market) & Low Demand(Few Buyers) = Buyer’s market. This condition won’t be going away anytime soon. The foreclosure market alone is posting record increases. Many banks are withholding a sizable portion of their foreclosure inventories of houses from the market to prevent an even further slump in home buying. There’s pressure on the banks to get these properties on the market quickly though, in order to get the dead loans off their books. That indicates the current conditions will be with us for a while, as more and more distressed real estate flows onto the market.

No matter what. Price will be an issue in the offer. Everybody thinks they can arrange a slightly better deal. Choose a good asking price for your property before you put it up for sale. Interview a bunch of different Realtors and get them to value your home before you decide which Realtor to use. Should you choose the one who gives the highest value? Not necessarily…Overpricing a home looks good to the seller…BIG TIME! It looks, equally powerfully bad to the buyer…BIG TIME! See if the value they give is much higher than the valuations of the other Realtors, look at the properties they used as a comparison (When were they sold, are they like properties with similar features) then it may be too high and/or they may have used inappropriate properties for comparison. Some agents may give you a high value in order to convince you to use their services, even though they know they will have to lower the price later on. You’ve already signed a contract with this agent, instead of the more realistic Realtors. If your house has already been on the market for some time, then you may need to lower the asking price.

The number 2 reason for a house failing to sell is that it is not in good enough condition. Structural problems or renovations are needed, even simply cosmetic issues, then there will be fewer buyers willing to take it on. Two options present themselves, Be flexible on price in consideration of the buyer’s repair expense or fix them yourself. Even superficial problems can turn off buyers. Exterior condition or curb appeal is a huge factor. Trimmed bushes, neat landscaping, mold on the siding or old peeling paint immediately turn of the buyer before they even enter the house. On the inside, Redecorating in more neutral colors, removing clutter and personal items and making sure that the house is neat and tidy when potential buyers come to view it can have a big impact on the chances of getting an acceptable offer.

The location of your house is also an important factor in its sale. If you’re home is off the beaten track, not conveniently close to any major routes or public transportation, etc. that can be another turn off. There is nothing you can do about the location of your home, but you may be able to make your property more attractive by working on its condition, marketing it’s quiet solitude and/or reducing your asking price(obviously, Last Resort).

Choosing the wrong listing agent is another reason why your house may remain on the market. If you do not have the best Realtor for your property, then they will not be working effectively enough to find you buyers, marketing your property well or dedicating enough time to the sale. In this market, no stone can be left unturned. How do they market?

A. Direct Mail is important, but response is very weak and scattered(a long shot at best). How much junk mail goes in your round file every day?
B. Do they physically work the area? Will they contact your neighbors to notify them of your home’s availability and solicit their help in finding a buyer. Post flyers in local high traffic areas? Hand deliver notes to your community? Old-fashioned, Gum-shoe real estate practices, like these, are still great tools for moving a home.
C. Do they advertise in the paper? As newspapers get less and less circulation, this medium is decreasing in importance. However, there’s a few who still read papers and they can be a source of potential buyers.
D. What do they do for electronic outreach? Most homes today are sold online. Do they have a website? Where do they advertise? Will they show you their ads? How’s their network? What can they show you to prove it’s strong?
E. How strong is the agency they work for? The big national boys have an awesome reach into the national market if you’re looking for someone moving into this area to buy your property. The local guys have the same awesome reach into their local communities. Many, on both sides, have been developing targeted networks for decades.

Causes for slow turnover of a specific property are as numerous and individual, as there are individual properties. For a more in depth analysis of your specific situation, call your agent. If you don’t have an agent, Call me.

Have fun!

Lew McConkey
Focused on Home Buyers and Sellers in Brockton, Abington, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax and East Bridgewater

Rosen Realty

Now, I know Ma. Real Estate Agency, so what now?

Basically, as a potential real estate client, you need to know who you’re real estate agent is, what duties they owe you and what duties they don’t owe you. An experienced real estate agent can fill a variety of roles: Buyer’s Agent, Seller’s Agent, Dual Agent and Facilitator/Transaction Broker. The duties of each are diverse and complex. Those duties detail the actions and activities of the agents. Essentially, what do you want or expect the agent representing you to do?

Because of the variety of roles we agents can play, the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespeople mandates that at the first face to face meeting between client and agent(Open Houses, Comparative Market Analysis(CMA) and Opinion of Value delivery have partial exemptions), the agent must fill out and explain a document to you, the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure.

This cool form basically tells you what the prospective agent in front of you sees his role in representing and advocating(or not) for you while you embark on one of the largest transactions of your life, buying or selling a home. Since the agent can fill so many possible roles, The various roles are explained on the back of the document.

This is a no pressure document. It’s not a contract. It’s just confirming who you’re talking to. You have the option of signing it or checking the “refused to sign” line. See No pressure.

Still you should read it and understand what it’s telling you. The various roles are described in past posts and they are critical as a basis of understanding what you want and need out of an agent. Most importantly, the document is the basis of a potentially blooming partnership.

The factors you need to consider in picking the right agent for you and your transaction are the proposed value of your home in the Comparative Market Analysis(CMA) he or she offers you. Beyond that you need to compare and contrast their commission percentage, their marketing plan, their understanding of the current market conditions and their personality. Lastly, How well did they prepare you for the next step? All these factors work into an informed decision.

Choose wisely. This person will be your partner in, what could be, the largest transaction of your life.

Have Fun!

Lew McConkey
Focused on Home Buyers and Sellers in Brockton, Abington, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax and East Bridgewater

Rosen Realty

The Facilitator/Transaction Broker

According to Massachusetts Real Estate Rules, an agent can also be a facilitator. Basically, This is a real estate agent’s playground. Many of the duties and the restrictions place on the buyer’s agent, the seller’s agent and especially the dual agent don’t apply to the Facilitator, otherwise known as a transaction broker. They are essentially a fair and balanced free agent in the transaction, just helping everybody get along and move along.

The facilitator has to represent the property honestly by disclosing known material defects and they must account for funds exchanged in the transaction. BOOM! That’s it. A smart facilitator will assist in keeping the transaction progressing smoothly too.

An agent acting as a facilitator owes accurate accounting of funds and honest presentation of the property. Advocacy for client…Nope. Client confidentiality…Nope. Following lawful instructions…Nope. Undivided loyalty…Nope. Those qualities/obligations are so ingrained in a good real estate agent that it’s a struggle not to get involved.

Those clients with fear of commitment or contracts, might see this type of agent. A facilitator, the buyer’s agent, the seller’s agent and the dual agent are all roles an active licensed real estate agent can fill, usually with a contract, detailing the commission, duration of the agreement, etc. It becomes a partnership for the stated duration of the contract, a solemn commitment. That commitment must go both ways between the client and the agent and between the agent and the client. If it doesn’t, facilitator is the perfect role for the agent to fill.

Lew McConkey
Focused on Home Buyers and Sellers in Brockton, Abington, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax and East Bridgewater

Rosen Realty

The Dual Agent

Acting as a dual agent, representing the buyer and the seller within the same transaction, is a tough one and requires a lot of thought and dialog, from both the agent and both the clients, before firing up this agreement.

The oracle of all things real estate: the Massachusetts Academy of Real Estate describes it this way: “A real estate agent may act as a dual agent representing both the buyer and the seller in a transaction but only with the express and informed consent(paperwork) of both the seller and buyer. Written consent to to dual agency must be obtained by a real estate agent prior to the execution of an offer to purchase a specific property. A dual agent shall be neutral with regard to any conflicting interest of the seller and/or the buyer. Consequently, a dual agent can not satisfy the duties of loyalty, full disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction which are required of an exclusive buyer or seller agent. The dual agent does, however, still owe the duty of confidentiality of material information and accountability of funds. The written consent for dual agency must contain the information provided for in the regulations of the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespeople Board.” Whew!!!

Basically, a dual agent stays neutral to both clients. They’re still required to disclose known material defects in the property, still required to keep both side’s legally permissible secrets and manage the accounting of exchanged funds, just like a seller’s or a buyer’s agent. That’s it though. As a neutral party, they can’t gather and use information to affect the price or better the terms for either the buyer or the seller.

This is serious stuff. Notice the written consent mentions above? If the agent doesn’t have prior written consent from both the buyer and seller, they can be in oodles of trouble with the Real Estate Board or worse. It actually illegal to be an undisclosed dual agent in Massachusetts. This is a very delicate line to walk for a motivated, thoughtful agent, because our natural inclination is to assist fully, to get elbows deep in the transaction and make things happen. Now, the dual agent is elbows deep with all the usual activity swirling around and he’s essentially just helping the procedure move along.

The bottom line is it can be done, done well(to the satisfaction of both clients) and it provides some nice benefits to the property transaction. The agent can focus on the overall process, which can make things run more smoothly, having one point of contact for both clients. The cost of that smoothness is in representation and energetic, dedicated advocacy. Both client parties and the agent need to understand and abide by that. In certain circumstances, the cost is more than acceptable to the clients. In fact, it’s preferable in situations where the transaction is very straight forward or there’s a time crunch, like the First Time Home Buyer’s Tax Credit deadline a few months ago.

Lew McConkey
Focused on Home Buyers and Sellers in Brockton, Abington, Whitman, Hanson, Halifax and East Bridgewater

Rosen Realty