Thursday, January 20, 2011

RI Realtors Association Reports Positive Signs

The Rhode Island single family market gained some momentum in the last month of the year, according to December sales statistics released today by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

The median price of single family home sales rose half of a percent from November and 5 percent from 12 months prior. The December 2010 median price of single family homes was $210,000. The number of single family home sales in December totaled 529, up from 505 in November, but remained down nine percent from December 2009.

The nine percent drop ended five months of year over year double digit sales declines, signifying that the sales slowdown which began in July after the expiration of the tax credit, may be nearing an end. The number of single family homes which sold through short sale or foreclosure fell 34 percent from December 2009.

The median price of multi-family sales rose eight percent from November, 2010 and 17 percent from December 2009 to $135,000. Sales slowed by 33 percent from the year prior, down to 124 sales in December, as the flurry of 2009 activity sparked by low foreclosure prices abated throughout 2010. The number of distressed multi-family sales declined 51 percent from the year prior.

Condominium sales struggled in December, down 17 percent from the month prior and 35 percent from December 2009. The median price of $178,500 also showed a decline, down ten percent from November and four percent from the December 2009 price of $185,000. The number of distressed sales decreased 50 percent since December 2009.

Despite some ups and downs, it does look like the housing industry is slowly getting back on track.

As always, if you have any questions about Rhode Island real estate, call me at 401-338-5102.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A House Should Be a Home

As we begin this new year I was thinking about that old saying "Home is Where the Heart Is."

For many of us that has changed over the last 10 years. Too many have thought of home buying and selling as a mere financial transaction not as a way to keep a roof over one's family.

According to the people over at The KCM Blog, this is the year that normalcy returns to real estate. People will buy and sell based on the desire for a better life for themselves and their families. They will realize that is the true value of home ownership and they will be willing to pay for that value.

For more on what is behind this thinking, visit KCM.

And to all of us who have been through a rough time, best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2011.

As always, if you have any questions about Rhode Island real estate, call me at 401-338-5102.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How to Winterize the Interior of Your Home

We know, it’s that time of year again. Long gone are the 90 degree days and afternoons spent at the beach. So as we take our mittens out of storage and start our annual celebration of sweater weather, should we not guard our homes the same way we do our being? With another Nor’easter right around the corner, the time has come to prepare our homes for the upcoming season.

We have compiled this list of 4 Ways to Winterize Your Home’s Interior to aid you in this annual practice.

1. Prevent Heat Escaping and Cold Air Entering

Start by replacing all window screens with storm windows. You will then want to caulk both sides of the trim, so that cold air won’t be able to get through the cracks. For an extra layer of protection, buy a window isolation kit from your local hardware store.
The crack between a door and it’s frame is one of the major ways that cold air can enter your home, so don’t forget to place weatherstripping around those openings as an extra precaution. Also, remember to inspect your windows, walls and doors for cracks. The cold can enter your home through any opening, so you will want to seal all gaps, no matter how small.

2. Heating System Maintenance

Since it’s still somewhat warm out, now is a good time to hire a qualified professional to conduct your annual heating system inspection.
If you have forced hot air heating, make sure that your ducts are well insulated. To make air flow more effective, you should repair places where pipes are pinched and fix gaps with metal-backed tape. Dusty ducts can cause respiratory problems, so it is a good idea to vacuum your duct-work. Also, you will want to replace all of your old furnace filters with new ones and remember to change them monthly throughout the season. If you don’t already have one, now might be a good time to install a digital thermostat.

3. Prevent Freezing Pipes

In the winter, no one wants gallons of water spilling throughout their home. To prevent any possible plumbing freezes, you should make sure that all piping (especially in the basement, attic or garage) is properly insulated. If not, you can cover the pipes with commercial products. If your AC has a shut-off valve, you need to turn it off before the cold weather sets in. When the temperature is below freezing, it is critical that you leave the heat on to at least 55 degrees or your pipes may be susceptible to burst.

4. Protect Yourself

While you may not have to replace them (detectors last for up to 10 years), this is the perfect time to make sure that all of your smoke detectors are working smoothly. But don’t just press the button, test them with a small bit of smoke. In addition, it is recommended that you change the batteries.

Make sure that you have easy access to a fire extinguisher at all times. Also, it may also be a good idea to invest in a Carbon Monoxide detector. Although home emergencies can be devastating in any season, these obstacles are especially daunting in the wintertime.

Thesw steps to winterize the interior of your will help ensure the safety and durability of your household in the upcoming season. While we can never know the exact conditions that the weather may thrust upon us, we can at least do our part to prepare our homes for harsh circumstances.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Own a Piece of History--New Price $299,900

1823 Daniel Potter House

The Daniel Potter house is listed in the Statewide Historical Preservation Report of the RI Historical Preservation Commission. A Cape with post and beam construction, this 3-bed, 2-bath house sits on 14+ acres plus there is an adjacent 5-acre lot also available.

The keeping room fireplace has a beehive oven. With wide board wainscoting in the keeping room, some additional original details are doors with thumb latches, wideboard floors in upstairs bedrooms, hand-hewn roofbeam with wooden pegs, and lathe and plaster walls.

The kitchen was remodeled in 1999 with custom cherry cabinets and birch floor. There is a 10x32 screened porch off the kitchen. Property includes flower beds, organic vegetable gardens and a shed.

Visit Antique Homes Magazine

History and Comfort in This 1780 Colonial Reduced to $749,900


Rehoboth, Massachusetts
Built four years after the end of the American Revolution, this 1780 Colonial Estate has comfort and history. Beautifully restored including a renovated granite/cherry kitchen plus two modern baths, this 12-room house has many original details throughout including wainscoting, dental and crown molding and pine wide-plank floors.

With 3,159 square feet of living space, there are five beds and two baths. Electric, plumbing, roof, well pump, and septic were all replaced within the last 8 years. In a picturesque setting with hand-built stone walls, huge well-built barn, two-car garage and several other outbuildings this home is pleasantly warm and inviting.

The former Blanding Farm, this property is near the Seekonk line and only 10 minutes to downtown Providence and 55 minutes to Logan Airport in Boston.

For more information and to see the virtual tour visit

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Five Things to Consider When Choosing a Neighborhood

1. Visit the house and neighborhood at varied times

The street may seem fine during the day but it could be totally different at night. You should also visit at different times a day to check what the traffic is like. Visit during an afternoon during rush hour as well as different days of the week.

2. Consider the costs of commuting

The costs of a long commute can really add up, not only in gas and maintenance but in time spent on the road when you could be home with family.

3. Ask questions of people who already live there

Don’t be afraid to walk around a neighborhood and speak to people you see on the street. Most are more than happy to talk about their opinions of neighborhood safety, noise, school performance, commuting times, etc. Especially if you are considering buying a condo, walk around to get a feeling about the people who live there.

4. The Internet is an excellent tool for research, for example, is a subscription service that offers in-depth looks at such considerations as crime statistics (for 17,000 law-enforcement jurisdictions), school-performance data, and quarterly price-appreciation records of area homes.

5. Neighborhood characteristics has taken 65 "quality of life" characteristics and set them up as criteria for neighborhood-hunters.

As always, if you have any questions about Rhode Island real estate, call me at 401-338-5102.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Single Family Home Sales and Prices Increase in June

The number of sales and median price of single family homes increased in June according to statistics released today by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

Eight hundred and ninety-seven (897) single family homes were sold last month, far surpassing the 667 sales of the previous month. Sales were up 11 percent from the June 2009 level of 805.

Median price rose five percent from a year ago to $220,000, and just over 10 percent from May's median price of $199,900. With the exception of February of this year which saw a small decline in sales, the number of sales has increased year over year every month for the past 15 months and median price has increased since November 2009.

While statistics show that sales volume historically jumps significantly from May to June, it appears that the tax credit originally set to expire in June was also a factor in larger than normal gains from month to month.

For more information, read the full story here.

With interest rate at their lowest in 35 years, the time to buy is now before prices rise.

As always, if you have any questions about Rhode Island real estate, call me at 401-338-5102.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Providence Restaurant Week

Do you often look at an ad or sign for a restaurant you've never been to and say "We need to go there sometime." Well, here's your opportunity to try a new place and maybe find a new favorite

Providence Restaurant Weeks 2010 will be held July 11-24. Choose from more than 90 Restaurants who will be offering:

$12.95 for a three-course lunch
$29.95 for a three-course dinner

Go to the website and click on the restaurant name to view menus and make reservations.

Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Congress Approves Tax Credit Extension

After a close brush with the deadline, Congress has passed an extension of the Homebuyer Tax Credit closing deadline, the Homebuyer Assistance and Improvement Act (H.R. 5623).

The extension applies only to transactions that have ratified contracts in place as of April 30, 2010 that have not yet closed. The legislation is designed to create a seamless extension the new closing deadline for eligible transactions is now September 30, 2010. There is will be no gap between June 30 and the date the President signs the bill into law.

Additionally, the United States Senate has passed the National Flood Insurance Program Extension Act of 2010 (H.R. 5569) an extension of the National Flood Insurance Program until September 30, 2010. This will allow transactions to move forward. The bill is retroactive and covers the lapse period from June 1, 2010 to the date of enactment of the extension.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mortgage Rates Hit An All-Time Low

Average interest on a 30-year fixed mortgage fell to an all-time low of 4.69 percent this week, down from 4.75 percent a week ago, reports Freddie Mac.

Although rates have held below 5 percent since early May, Michael Fratantoni of the Mortgage Bankers Association notes that demand for purchase loans has fallen in six of the past seven weeks and now is at a 13-year low. Consumers have grown used to low rates, he explains, adding that they balk at buying because they are more concerned about stagnant wages and high unemployment.

If you have been holding off on buying a house, the time may be right!

For any information about buying or selling, call me at (401) 338-5102.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Realtor Designations Explained

Ever wonder what the credentials after a Realtor's name mean? Here are descriptions of some of the more important ones in the real estate industry.

Accredited Buyer Representation (ABR): This Realtor has met specific educational and practical experience criteria, including completion of a 2-day Real Estate Buyer's Agents Council (REBAC) core course. They've also passed a written exam on the legal and practical aspects of agency representation.

Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI): This designation is for Realtors who are involved in residential real estate, who want a solid educational base of information for their practice. According to the National Association of Realtors, "The GRI program includes 90 hours of coursework on topics from marketing and servicing listed properties to real estate law."

e-Pro Internet Professional: This training program helps certify real estate professionals and teach them how to thrive in our ever developing technological world. This course teaches how to make an Internet presence, master email communication, create a web-marketing plan, and how to use aspects of ancillary technology such as PDAs, Smart Phones, Digital Cameras, Virtual Tours, and MLS systems. All valuable and necessary education when representing buyers and sellers.

Certified Residential Specialist (CRS): This is the highest designation awarded to sales associates, with less than four percent of Realtors holding this certification. It has been awarded since 1977 and recognizes agents who meet stringent requirements, such as 75 transactions within 5 years or $25,000,000 in sales in five years, among other stellar achievements.

When choosing a Realtor, look for agents with some of these credentials. Real Estate professionals who continue their education even after years of experience can be your most valuable asset in your search for a buyer or help in your search for a home.

For more information or real estate assistance, call me at 401-338-5102.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good News in the Neighborhood

The median price of single family home sales rose 14.3 percent in Rhode Island from January 2009 to January 2010 according to sales data released today by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

Median price, which reflects the marketing mix (size and type) of properties sold and not the value of the same property over time, rose to $200,000 from $175,000 in January 2009. Last month marked the third consecutive month of increased prices.

The price increase correlates to a drop in the rate of distressed sales. Thirty-two percent of all sales last month were sold through foreclosure or short sale, compared to 47.8 percent 12 months earlier. The median price of conventional single family sales - those not sold under duress - was $227,500.

For full story and accompanying statistics, visit

For more information or real estate assistance, call me at 401-338-5102.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Third Quarter 2009 Housing Sales

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes were up 27.2% during the last three months of 2009 compared to the same period a year earlier, hitting a seasonally adjusted rate of 6 million homes sold.

That's a 13.9% increase from the 5.29 million annual rate seen during the third quarter, as home buyers moved to take advantage of low interest rates and a tax credit that was set to expire but was ultimately extended and expanded by Congress.

Sales increased from the third quarter to the fourth in 48 states and the District of Columbia, with 32 states seeing double-digit gains, NAR said. Year-over-year sales were higher in 49 states and Washington, D.C., and all but three states had double-digit annual increases.
Distressed property accounted for 32 percent of fourth-quarter transactions, down from 37% a year earlier.

The national median existing single-family price fell 4.1% year-over year to $172,900 -- the smallest price decline in more than two years, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.

However, Rhode Island saw an increased in houses sold in December 2009. The number of single-family houses sold in Rhode Island and the median price for those houses rose when compared with December 2008, according to figures tabulated by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors. That followed a November that also saw prices and numbers sold increase from the same month a year ago, which broke a 39-month streak of lower prices.

December sales rose 19%, from 492 houses in 2008 to 583 houses in 2009, according to the Realtors Association. At the same time, the median sales price rose 5%, from $190,000 to $200,001.

Let's hope this trend continues and that it means that the Rhode Island residential real estate market may be recovering after a three-year slump.

For all your Real Estate questions and need, contact me at 401-338-5102.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Four Reasons to Sell Now

Everyone is hearing that selling a property in this tough market seems like a challenge. If you are on the fence about putting your house on the market now, the National Association of Realtors give these reasons not to wait:

1. Sell low and buy low. Because all property values are down, the loss on the property a home owner sells is really only a paper loss because the next property he buys also will be a bargain. If he buys smartly, when prices come back up in a few years, he’ll be in better shape. It's all about percentages.

2. Down-payment help is widely available. While nothing-down loans have disappeared, it is easy to find down-payment assistance for lower-income and first-time home buyers. Programs vary all over the country, but one good way to find them is to search online for “down-payment assistance programs” and the name of your region. There are many first-time buyers out there as well as 'move-up' buyers, both of whom may be able to qualify for the tax credit.

3. Besides the tax credits for buyers, there is an array of energy tax credits that can make home improvements pay off in cash.

4. Good help is available. Really talented real estate practitioners, contractors, and designers are available and eager for business.

Don't wait, if you are considering selling call me at (401) 338-5102.

Image courtesy of Google Images

Thursday, January 7, 2010

It’s a perfect time to make a great investment!

In November, Congress extended the tax credit for first time home buyers.

Who is eligible to claim the $8,000 tax credit?
First-time home buyers purchasing any kind of home—new or resale— to be used as a principal residence costing $800,000 or less are eligible for the tax credit. To qualify for the tax credit, a home purchase must occur on or after January 1, 2009, be under contract on or before April 30, 2010 and close before June 30, 2010.

What is the definition of a first-time home buyer?
The law defines “first-time home buyer” as a buyer who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase. Ownership of a vacation home or rental property not used as a principal residence does not disqualify a buyer as a first-time home buyer.

How is the amount of the tax credit determined?
The tax credit is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.

Are there any income limits for claiming the tax credit?
The income limit for single taxpayers is $125,000; the limit is $225,000 for married taxpayers filing a joint return. Single or head-of-household taxpayers with income between $125,000-$145,000 and joint filers between $225,000-$245,000 qualify for reduced credits.

Is this a loan?
No, the tax credit does not need to be repaid as long as you continue to own the home for a minimum of 3 years.

There is a special deadline for people serving in the Military: The deadline has been extended until June 30, 2011 for members of military who have served outside the United States for at least 90 days between January 1, 2009 and May 1, 2010.

If you are a current homeowner, you don’t have to be left out!

As part of the new legislation, there is a tax credit of up to $6500 for ‘move-up’ buyers. Those are buyers who have owned their current home for at least 5 of the 8 previous years. The same restrictions apply regarding the date that the transaction must be completed by.

With mortgage rates and home prices still low, there's never been a better time to buy a house.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time Running Out for First-Time Home Buyers Credit

Chances are you have read recently about the bill before Congress to extend the First-Time Home Buyers Credit. Part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, this opportunity may be gone very soon.

The $8,000 tax credit is available for homes purchased on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009, and is equal to 10 percent of the home’s purchase price up to a maximum of $8,000.

Some people have said that stimulus money given out since the beginning of the year has caused problems in the economy. As a full-time Realtor for the last ten years, I can assure you that the $8,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit has definitely been a success. Homebuyer interest and housing sales increased almost as soon the availability of this program became news.

Today's lower prices and interest rates appeal to consumers, but it's been the tax credit that has attracted people to open houses and to homeownership. Demand from first-time homebuyers helped drive a 9.4% increase in sales of existing homes from August to September according to the National Association of Realtors, continuing a trend of increasing sales in five out of the last six months.

This tax incentive is a true tax credit. The $8,000 home buyer tax credit is tangible cash, not a deduction from taxable income. This is not a loan and does not have to be repaid as long as you live in the house for the next three years.

A ‘first-time home buyer’ is defined as someone who has not owned a home in the last three years. There are other restrictions in the qualifications such as income caps, and the home must be your principal residence.

I explain to people that this program has had a ‘trickle up’ effect. Home owners in the lower-priced market have been able to sell to buyers eligible for this credit which has given those sellers the opportunity to move up into more expensive homes.

In my business in 2009, 40% of my transactions have involved buyers who qualify for and intend to apply for this credit.
As the November 30th deadline looms I have seen a slump in my buyers’ activity. It’s close to being too late to enter into a sales agreement with any hope of closing by that date.

Uncertainty about the future of the credit will dampen consumer demand nationwide. There’s a strong lobby in Washington among realtors, lenders and builders urging Congress to extend this opportunity. The progress that has been made in the recovery of the real estate market could grind to a halt unless Congress acts now to extend the credit through 2010. Let’s hope they are listening!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Condominium Financing is A Challenge

This post is courtesy of Sally Lapides, Owner and CEO of Residential Properties Ltd.

HUD issued Mortgagee Letter 2009-19 with important changes to the guidelines for Condo financing. The guidelines were originally scheduled to take effect on October 1st, but are now scheduled to take effect November 2nd. One of the major changes has to do with the Approved Condo list. Currently, FHA has a list of Approved Condo’s. If a project is on the approved list then FHA financing is allowed, but only if the project meets the other requirements. Spot Approval provided a way to close FHA loans in projects that were not approved; now, spot approval will no longer be allowed. According to the new guidelines, any project not approved in the past 12 months will be taken off the FHA Condo Approval list and new projects currently approved will have 12 months to re-certify, so basically the entire list of approved condo’s is being redone.

Here are some more proposed guidelines to be mindful of:• 4+ units can have 30% maximum FHA financed units, (which might change to 50%).• No more than 15 % of the units can be in arrears of the condo association fee.• No more than 10% of the units can be owned by a single investor.• 2 and 3 units are now allowed, but HUD will only insure one of the units.• Right of First refusal considered on a case by case basis, (as long as you can prove it is not discriminatory).

Real Estate Insight tip:
If you are thinking about buying a Condo with FHA financing, do yourself a favor and look for HUD approved units. If you are selling a unit that is not HUD approved, understand that the pool of buyers is smaller, and non HUD approved Condos are going down in value, you might have to price below market to compete. If you live in a non-approved building, strongly suggest to your Condo Board that they go about the approval process. To find out if a condo project is FHA approved, click here for the HUD webpage: FHA condo approval search

Friday, October 2, 2009

Calling All Buyers

There's never been a better time to buy a home. Let me say that again.....There's NEVER been a better time to buy a home.

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBAA) reported last week the average interest rate on new 30-year fixed-rate loans nationwide was 4.97%, nearing the lowest level in decades. And on Thursday, Freddie Mac reported that the average fixed rate on a 15-year home loan had dropped to 4.46%, the lowest level on record.

Not surprisingly, loan applications jumped 13% last week and are up 50% from late June. Aside from the holy grail rumor of 4.5% last summer, 5% seems to be the magic number that really spurs mortgage activity. Most of the activity has been for refinancing, but applications for new homes are growing as well, according to the MBAA.

That coupled with the amazing real estate values that are available in so many areas make this the time to buy.

And if you are a first time buyer or have not owned a home in the last three years, you may be eligible to receive an $8000 tax credit the next time you file your income taxes.

If you have been waiting to buy a home, the time is NOW!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

I guess the real phrase is "You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk?" I told you about my friends Chet & Nellie and the beautiful new home they just purchased. Chet owns a local hardware store. The business actually employs three generations of his family; sadly something almost unheard of today. I don't think you'll be surprised to hear that their business is struggling. The mom-and-pop-type of business is being hardest hit in this economy and thousands are going under every week.

A few months back I wrote about a buy local organization in our area called the Blackstone Valley Independent Business Alliance. Chet and Nellie have been instrumental in organizing and promoting that effort because the idea of 'buying local' could mean the continued success or failure of their business.

Think of it this way....the money you spend in a local hardware, paint, appliance, lighting, camera or computer store stays in your community. It goes to pay a family's mortgage, tuition, grocery bill and even stays in the community when these people shop in other local businesses.

The money you spend in those big box stores certainly does pay some salaries and some local taxes but the biggest part of it goes to Georgia or Arkansas and pays the bonuses of high-paid executives who probably don't think much about you or your community! Do you ever see one of those company's names on the uniform of one of your kid's teams? They seldom reinvest in the community they are located in.

I got an email from Nellie this week telling me they have purchased new furniture, appliances and central vacuum. I asked where she bought everything, and she gave me a list of local companies. Here is what Nellie wrote...."I take the service of buying local for granted because I see the service provided by Vose, but when we were actually buying and listening to the expertise of the salesmen and getting priority treatment and instant service, I appreciate it so much more. Imagine free delivery in this day with the price of gas."

She and Chet are Walking the Walk not just talking the talk. We all should.

Image from Google Images

Sunday, July 5, 2009

House of the Week

Within walking distance of Keach Pond, this 3 bed, 1 1/2 bath Raised Ranch is a must see! Set on a beautiful acre lot with natural pine grove in the front and well-manicured back yard you can sit on the 12' x 32' deck and enjoy life! Inside you'll find a NEW kitchen with quartz counters, maple cabinets and stainless steel appliances. The Kitchen opens to the Dining Room and Living Room. Interior inprovements include new hardwood floors and new paint. There are two fireplaces; one in the Living Room and a second fireplace with a woodburning stove in the finished lower level which has a huge Family Room with a walkout to the patio. The lower level also features a half-bath with laundry.

There's a two-car heated garage plus central air, double sinks in the main bath, tons of recessed lighting and sound system throughout the first floor. All this plus an award-winning school system.

Call me today at 401-338-5102 for your personal appointment to see this great house or

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Providence Restaurant Week

Need a place to celebrate something? Looking to try a new restaurant? Mark your calendar for the 3rd Annual Providence Restaurant Weeks event which will be held July 12-25. More than 75 restaurants all over Rhode Island from East Greenwich to Woonsocket will be offering three-course, fixed price lunches and dinners. Lunch will be $12.95 and dinner will be $29.95.

So whether you want to visit your favorite restaurant or try someplace new, here is your chance. In its third year, the event was very successful the first two years. During a time when everyone is looking to stretch their entertainment dollars to the max, this is a way to do something special for not a lot of money.

When I have relocation clients visiting The Ocean State for the first time I'm always happy to tell them how many fantastic and varied the restaurants are in Rhode Island. With the reports of people staying close to home this year during vacation time, reservations are strongly suggested. A full list of participating restaurants with menus and reservation options are available online
here. Prices are valid for prix-fixe menus only and other restritions may apply. Beverages, tax and gratuity are not included.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Appraisals and How They Can Impact a Sale or Refinancing

Real Estate appraisals are becoming major obstacles for many people trying to sell or refinance their homes in the U.S.

When housing prices were going through the roof, appraisers were often called back by buyers or sellers for a revision of an appraisal to provide a value to justify a higher agreed-upon sale price. Lenders who were burned by huge losses from defaults have now tightened up their guidelines for appraisals. In some cases lenders are not accepting sales closed more than three months ago rather than the six-month window generally used in the past.

Valuation disputes are also causing problems in some sales. Sellers who have put higher prices on their homes and have buyers willing to pay are finding that the properties do not appraise for the sales price. One solution might be for the seller to pay more of a down payment or they may want to renegotiate the purchase price.

Appraisers are also bringing in values that are too low to allow homeowners to refinance their loans. Credit lines that are secured by homes are being affected. If your line of credit was based on a value that was 50% higher than today's value, a lender may scale back your total line of credit. Some borrowers are receiving notices from their lender saying their credit limit has been reached or exceeded based on a new appraisal.

While these changes are designed to prevent abuses, they also are adding more frustration to an already difficult real estate market. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, make sure your Real Estate agent is reputable and looking out for your interests.

For all your real estate questions or if you are considering buying or selling a house this year, give me a call at (401) 457-1745 or drop me a line!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Helping you Find a Real Estate Agent in a New Area

If you are getting ready to move to another area or even considering such a move, I can help! And before you 'change channels' on me saying "I don't live near her" let me tell you that if you ever need a realtor ANYWHERE, I can help!

Sure, you can try to find a realtor by looking online and Googleing the area or have someone send you one of those glossy brochures that have listings that expired a month ago. But I'd rather talk to you, listen and find out what you are looking for and then personally connect you with an agent chosen just for you. What a concept!
Personal, professional service.

I am part of an organization called
Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, a global network of nearly 700 premier real estate firms with 5,500 offices and 170,000 sales associates in 38 countries around the world. This group is made up of trusted local experts selling more homes than any national brand. As a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, we can connect you with top professionals who know the neighborhood – anywhere in the world. You’ll enjoy:

  • Personalized assistance in finding the right home and neighborhood
  • Information on schools, business and recreation
  • Contacts with financing sources
  • Discounts on household moving services
  • A free relocation package for your new destination

So if you or any one you know is getting ready to relocate or purchase a second home and don't know who to call, call me at (401) 457-1745 or drop me a note. I will be happy to get you in touch with an agent in your new location who has the expertise to represent you!

Image from Google Images

Sunday, May 17, 2009

House of the Week

Not a house yet but a spectacular location to build your dream house! A private 2-acre homesite already approved for a 4-bed home in North Cumberland on the Wrentham, Massachusetts line. A great commuter location. Be close to everything but have your privacy. With 260' of frontage this property has beautiful rolling hills, mature trees and a pond.

Call (401) 457-1745 today for more information and your private tour of this very special location.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What is a Short Sale?

What is a Short Sale? You’ve heard the phrases “upside down” and “under water” recently with regard to the situation many homeowners are finding themselves in. What that means is that the value of an owner’s home is LESS than the amount of his outstanding loans or mortgages. For example, if your home is worth $200,000 but you have a loan of $225,000, you are under water.

If you must sell and cannot afford to bring the $25,000 to closing and do not want to consider a foreclosure, you might approach your lender with the idea of a short sale. Certainly not a quick fix, a short sale generally does less damage to your credit than a foreclosure. While most lenders will not be thrilled at the prospect of a short sale, they are aware that a foreclosure is usually a far more time-consuming and costly option. In a real estate market where housing values are going down it is in the best interests of the lender to liquidate their problem loans as quickly as possible.

If you are a buyer and considering the purchase of a “short sale” be prepared for a much longer time line from signing your Purchase & Sales agreement to closing. These types of sales are taking 3 to 6 months to complete. So if you have the time and can be patient, it can be a great opportunity to buy a property you might not be able to afford otherwise.

Whether you are a Buyer or Seller of a short sale, my suggestion is to find a Realtor and attorney who are experienced in this type of real estate transaction. For more information, feel free to call
me at (401) 457-1745.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Your Realtor is an Independent Contractor

I had a buyer-client couple in my car over the course of several hours last weekend. As we were driving between appointments we were chatting about cars. They have seven between them so obviously we were looking for a property with a garage.

As we were driving along, Chris asked if my car belongs to my company or if they provide a car allowance. A reasonable question to ask of most salespeople but certainly not the case for a Realtor. I told him that it most defintely is my vehicle and that I am an independent contractor and pay most of my business expenses out of pocket; out of my own pocket.

It was a question I've been asked before but it brought back the realization that many consumers still have no idea how we realtors are 'paid.' Often they think we are paid hourly for those tours we give them of a new area or that we drive a company car. I explained to Chris I work under the 'umbrella' of a broker and I share my commissions with the company.

The percentage that a sales agent receives is determined by the employment contract the agent has with the Real Estate Company. Real Estate Agents are independent contractors and receive no financial benefit other than the sales commission. We are responsible for our own vehicles, auto insurance, gas & maintanence, malpractice insurance, computers, cell phones, and medical insurance to name some of our business expenses.

Certainly there are many different 'compensation programs' out there in real estate. Realtors who are affiliated with a franchise firm pays royalty fees. There are agencies who provide their agents with desk space, administrative support, a phone/computer line and cover soem of their advertising expenses such as business cards and print ads in local papers and magazines. Some pay none of that and the agent pays all expenses either per month or per transaction.

The important thing for the consumer to know is that your agent, whether representing you as a Buyer or Seller, receives no compensation until AFTER your transaction closes. No closing, no paycheck. So a Listing Agent representing the seller will likely have spent money during the time of the listing for advertising, color brochures, virtual tours, signs, etc, planning to recoup those expenses after the sale. A Buyers' Agent has the auto expenses already mentioned plus cell phone, computer, etc. An agent taking you around to see various listings is not being paid by anyone. They will be compensated when, and only when, they represent you in the purchase of a home that gets to closing.

Client loyalty is a valuable commodity to Realtors. If you find a Buyers' Agent you like and who seems to be doing a good job for you, stick with her! And Sellers, be sure you have given your Listing Agent an opportunity to sell your house before thinking you 'need a new agent/company.' When you change agents or real estate companies, that first agent has no chance to recover those expenses already spent on trying to sell your house.

Certainly if you are not happy with your agent for any reason, talk to her! Give her an opportunity to do for you what she's there for. As always, communication is the key to a successful business transaction.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

House of the Week

Set in Rolling Meadows Estates in picturesque Pascoag, this 3 bed/2.5 bath Colonial is in pristine condition. Built in 2002, this home has a spacious kitchen with a tile floor, Silestone counters and stainless appliances all NEW in 2008. Plus new hardwoods throughtout the first floor. A very convenient floor plan with the laundry in the lavette on the 1st floor and a finished lower level. The lovely master has its own bath and two walk-in closets!

Set in a young neighborhood, you can sit on your Farmer's Porch and enjoy the peace. With a 1/2 acre lot, the property has a large flat yard with sprinklers both front and back. Close to everything, just minutes to Rts. 44 & 295.

Call (401) 457-1745 today for more information or a private appointment!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Importance of a Home Inspection

You have finally found The House. Your buyers' agent has negotiated a great price, you have signed a Purchase & Sales Agreement and now it's time to have The Home Inspection. Never skip the Home Inspection!! No buyers' agent worth his salt will let a client forego an inspection.

Hopefully before you get to this point, your agent sat with you and discussed the inspection process. Some of the inspections you may want to consider include Physical & Mechanical, Termite & Woodboring Insects, Radon Measurements, Water Analysis & Flow Test (if the house has a private well), Septic Inspection (if the house isn't connected to public sewer system) and Lead Hazard. Generally there is a time limit by which you must have the inspections completed. Check with your buyers' agent to find out what the practice is in your area.

A qualified Home Inspector will look for deficiencies that seriously compromise habitability and safety of the home or would be expensive to repair. You may get a written report or the report may be delivered to you electronically. For first-time homeowners, the inspections are especially valuable because your inspector may also give you some information about the workings of some of the mechanicals in the house and provide some maintanence information.

Hopefully your reports will be short on problems and the rest of your transaction will go along smoothly. But at least you will know you've done your best to avoid any nasty surprises after the closing.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

The Value of Buying An Owner-Occupied Multi-Family House

When I was growing up they were called tenements or tenement houses. I haven't heard that term in years; they are now most often referred to as multi-family houses or just multis. I grew up in a city in the Northeast with many textile mills and neighborhoods full of tenements. Back then it seemed most of those houses of 2-3 units or apartments were owner occupied and often housed several generations of the same family.

That practice became less common as people who could afford to left the cities and moved to the suburbs often keeping the multis as investment property and becoming absentee landlords. Without the landlord right there to keep an eye on things, the properties often fell into some disrepair and showed less pride of ownership. When values of real estate skyrocketed in recent years, many of these owners sold their multis at incredible prices. Now we are seeing many, many of these multis being sold as short sales or after foreclosure. The poor condition of some of these houses is unimaginable.

If you are considering buying a multi-family property to either live in or invest in, my advice is to try to find one that is or was owner-occupied. Certainly that is getter more difficult in this market but it's not impossible. Sometimes you can tell by the information available on the multiple listing service (MLS) or your Buyers' Agent may be able to find out. It doesn't hurt to ask.

An owner-occupied multi is less likely to be for sale as a foreclosure or as a short sale so the price may be more of a conventional market price and not seem like such a bargain. But the condition of the property may more than make up for the additional cost of purchase. Also if the house is vacant and needs work before you can get paying tenants in there, every day it's empty is a negative for you.

No matter which way you go, find a Buyers' Agent to represent YOU and do your homework!

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

House of the Week--OPEN HOUSE June 7, 2009

**Sunday, June 7, 2009 1:00-3:00 p.m.**


This custom-built Colonial is located in prestigious Valley Stream Estates. With over 4000 sf of living space, this home has 4 beds plus a full in-law/au pair suite. Built in 2001, this home is better than new. The gorgeous gourmet kitchen features a Wolf Range, Granite counters, Hardwood floor and Stainless Steel appliances. A very open floor plan, details include crown molding, French Doors, Master Suite with Sitting Room and closets galore!

There is also a finished lower level with lavette. Newly painted throughout plus new carpet and new hardwood floors, this home is ready to move in. The property is professionally landscaped with underground sprinklers and has a very secluded yard on a quiet street.

Call (401) 457-1745 today for more information or a private showing.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's All About the Service and the Client

An article written about Zappos, the online shoe seller recently talked about how important customer service and happy employees are to a successful business. Now there's a news flash for you!

Talking about how all types of businesses are paying attention to customer-centric and employee-friendly approaches to business, the author felt that such ideas seem to run counter to the prevailing economic currents of cutting costs and services these days. I don't remember getting that memo. While we are all certainly being forced to cut costs, I don't see much value in cutting customer service.

Real Estate is all about service not sales. I've always felt more like a consultant or a counselor when working with a client to buy or sell a house rather than a salesperson. They look to me to bring them information that will help them make a decision to help them reach their goal.

I know this all sounds rather obvious and simplistic, but you'd be surprised how many Realtors I have met and worked with who seem to have forgotten or maybe never knew it. One of the most important qualities of a successful realtor is patience! I pride myself on listening to my clients and giving them the attention they need and deserve.

A house is probably the most valuable asset most of us will own in our lives. Any decisions made during or leading up to a real estate transaction can have far-reaching and long-term consequences. You need to have the right person assisting you and the right information to make those decisions.

If you are considering buying or selling a house this year, give me a call at (401) 457-1745 or drop me a line!

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some GOOD News About the Real Estate Market

Calling all first-time home buyers!!

Would you or someone you know like to purchase a home in the next 6 months? Well, if you haven't owned a house in the last three years and meet certain criteria, this may be your year to become a homeowner!

Chances are you have heard about the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit which is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created in July of 2008. Revised earlier this year, it provides a maximum credit amount of $8000 to purchasers who qualify. This is not a loan; as long as you live in the house for three years, it doesn't have to be paid back; basically it's a GIFT. Only single family residences (including condos) qualify. Purchases of multi-family houses, even if owner-occupied, are not eligible. Only applicable to homes purchased between January 1, 2009, and December 1, 2009, there are a few rules.

  1. Purchasers must have an adjusted gross income of no more than $75,000 for individuals, $150,000 on a joint return.
  2. Purchaser and spouse may not have owned a house in the 3 years previous to the purchase.
  3. If the home is sold within three years of purchase the whole amount of the credit must be repaid at closing.

Home prices are at the lowest they have been in years. There are many great opportunities out there. If you would like to find out if you qualify for a mortgage and the First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit, give me a call or send me a message and I'll give you a referral to a lender who can answer all your questions. And if you need help finding your home, let me know! It's an exciting time to be a home buyer.

Note: I am a licensed Realtor in Rhode Island & Massachusetts. Even if you are not looking for a home in my area, please call me. I am part of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, the premier real estate network providing service nationally and internationally. I would love to give you a referral to a qualified, professional Realtor in your area!

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