If there’s one solid piece of advice for homebuyers in the Boston area, it’s simply to hang in there.
The market has been tough for some time now, with rising prices and a tight inventory of homes to choose from, which has made it decidedly a seller’s market. Some buyers have felt like they have to take what they can get simply to get into the market, especially those looking for a bigger house.
The one factor that has been working in favor of buyers is that mortgage interest rates have been hovering near historic lows.
In recent weeks, there has been a little bit of good news for buyers trying to get into Boston and surrounding area homes.
According to real estate experts, there are some signs that the market might be starting to level off just a bit and be shifting toward a balanced market, which is when the demand for homes is equal to the number of buyers currently looking.
The number of homes sold dropped slightly, and the median price, which is the average of all properties sold, seems to have leveled out. Some homes have remained unsold for longer than their owners would have thought — perhaps a sign that buyers are either beginning to take more time to evaluate the market or that some are stepping back to see if conditions will swing in their favor in the coming months.
According to Zillow.com, the median value of homes in the Boston area is currently $697,690. That’s an increase of 6% during the last year, meaning that half of the houses that sold recently have gone for more than the median price, and half have sold for below it.
Of course, there are several affluent neighborhoods and suburbs of Boston where high home prices reflect the spacious, luxurious homes that are available there.
So, with so many factors to consider, how do you get going on buying a house in the Boston area? There are a few steps before you start viewing homes, although it doesn’t hurt to browse some online listings to get a sense of prices in the various areas you’re interested in.
Some people think they can simply shop for houses online, visit some of them in person and then strike a deal with the seller without the help of an agent.
That can’t be further from the truth.
Your first step in the homebuying process is to hire a dedicated and experienced real estate agent to help you through every step in the process. The objective is to find a knowledgeable agent who has several years of experience helping Bostonians get into the homes of their dreams. The good agents know the ins and outs of the best neighborhoods and will help match up your wishes and needs with a wonderful house or condo. Agents also have tracked pricing trends during the current hot market and have strategies for writing offers that will be accepted by sellers. They may also have good working relationships with other Realtors in the area which can help with the buying process.
Browsing agents’ profiles and sales histories online is a great way to start your search for an agent. An even better way is to get recommendations from family members, co-workers, and acquaintances who have recently purchased homes in the Boston area. If they were pleased with the service they received from their agent, follow up on that positive referral.
When you sit down to interview your top three candidates, you need to get a strong sense of their experience level and record of success, their communications skills, and their level of trustworthiness. All are important factors in finding someone who will have your best interests in mind during a process that can sometimes be frustrating and confusing.
At a certain point, you’ll get a gut feel for which Realtor will best represent you. Then it’s time to move on to the next steps.
You’ll need to set a budget so you know how much house you can afford, which will help you zero in on certain properties and certain neighborhoods. With this figure in mind, visit a few mortgage lenders and find out their rates and terms. They will check your monthly income, credit rating, and other financial details to determine how big of a mortgage you can afford.
Once you’ve decided which lender you’ll go with, have them write you a pre-approval letter. When it’s time to make an offer, that letter will let sellers know that you are serious about buying their home and that they can expect smooth sailing during the closing process.
When you’ve found that Boston area property that has everything you’re looking for, and maybe more, you should quickly submit an offer. If other buyers are also interested in this house, you need to make your offer stand out. Your agent knows what comparable properties in the same neighborhood have sold for recently and will help you set the price.
A smart agent also knows whether to include any contingencies or to submit a “clean” offer without any contingencies. In normal times, buyers can ask for help with closing costs or for the seller to leave behind certain things. But when sellers hold most of the cards, including too many contingencies can get your offer rejected.
Once your offer is accepted, your agent will help steer the deal through closing.
If you’re looking for houses for sale in Boston, Cambridge, or Boston area suburbs, contact Kendall Green Luce Team for the best client experience possible.