Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why You Need A Certified Buyer Representative When Purchasing A Home

Working with buyers I am often asked what value I can bring to the transaction. As a buyer’s representative (or simply buyer’s rep) I am a licensed real estate professional who represents prospective homebuyers in their property transaction. When you’ve formalized an agency relationship, typically by signing a buyer’s rep agreement with a buyer’s rep, this is what you can expect::

Understand your specific needs and wants, and locate appropriate properties.
Assist you in determining how much you can afford (pre-qualify your mortgage).
Preview and/or accompany you in viewing properties.
Research properties, to identify any problems or issues you should consider.
Advise you in formulating your offer.
Help you develop your negotiation strategy.
Provide a list of potential qualified vendors (such as inspectors, attorneys, lenders, etc.) for other related services that may be needed.
Organize and keep track of all the details throughout the entire transaction—to closing and beyond.
In other words, a buyer’s rep should make your homebuying experience go as smoothly and successfully as possible.

But not all buyer’s reps are equal. A buyer’s rep who has earned the Certified Buyer’s Representative (CBR®) REALTOR® designation has made an extra effort to raise the bar, with additional training and experience in serving you, the homebuyer. If you work with a CBR®, you can feel more confident that you’ll receive the highest level of buyer-representation services.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Eco-friendly Kitchen Design

Watch this video and find out what makes for a green Kitchen.

Senators Agree To Extend Homebuyer Tax Credit

The Associated Press reports that Senators agreed Wednesday to extend a popular tax credit for first-time homebuyers and to offer a reduced credit to some repeat buyers.

The tax credit provides up to $8,000 to first-time homebuyers but is set to expire at the end of November. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that new home sales fell 3.6 percent in September, and some industry representatives blamed uncertainty about the tax credit.

Senators agreed to extend the existing tax credit for first-time homebuyers while offering a reduced credit of up to $6,500 to repeat buyers who have owned their current homes for at least five years, said Regan Lachapelle, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The tax credits would be available to homebuyers who sign sales agreements by the end of April. They would have until the end of June to close on their new homes, according to a summary of the legislation being circulated among lawmakers.

Biggest Losers: 20 Home Design Features That Send Buyers Running

Design glitches draw attention away from a home’s best features. Don’t let out-of-date fixtures and unappealing decor cost you a sale. While some buyers may actually appreciate “vintage” features, home and design experts say these 20 features almost always serve as a turnoff.

1. Dated and excessively bold or dark paint and tile colors, such as “Pepto Bismol” pink, avocado green, deep plum, or jet black. “Dark can be cool, but it has to be a color that’s popular today,” .

2. Lacquered or high-gloss painted walls that are expensive to repaint and show all defects. Likewise, faux- and sponge-painted walls can be so passe.

3. Painted trim that’s very dark-and costly to remove.

4. Wallpaper, which is a lot of work (and potentially expensive) to remove. Most disliked: Dated flowered or striped patterns.

5. Kitchens that lack any dining space. Also, outdated, small-scale, and dirty kitchen appliances that look like they won’t perform.

6. Worn, cracked laminate countertops, and backsplashes or plastic cultured marble.

7. Outdated bathrooms with small sinks, short toilets, squatty bathtubs, and tight showers-all of which aren’t conducive to unwinding after a long day’s work, says Ames.

8. Lack of ample closet space in bedrooms, or no closet at all and no place to build one or add an armoire.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

25 Easy Fix-Ups For Selling Your home

The condition of your home will have a huge impact on how fast it sells, and its eventual selling price. Preparing your home for sale can pay you huge dividends. Many fix ups cost very little and consist mostly of time and some elbow grease. Here are some simple tips to help your home show its best.

1. Clean the entire home thoroughly. Shampoo carpets, wash walls, clean sills, window screens and blinds. Clean out light fixtures and dust shelving. Get detailed here.

2. Clean the clutter from all closets, cupboards and cabinets.

3. Make your rooms look as spacious as possible. Store unnecessary furnishing items that make your home look  crowded.

4. Arrange furnishing so that it is easy to walk through your home.

5. Scale down the number of photos, pictures, portraits and posters hanging on walls. Make sure you patch all nail and screw holes.

6. Keep your curtains and draperies open as a rule. You will want your home to show very light and bright. Find ways to screen any unappealing views.

7. Make your kitchen shine. Remove clutter from counter tops and cabinets and store it. Keep your sink clean and clear of any dirty dishes.

Is Your Home's Electrical System Safe?

We all know that as things age, they often need replacing but sometimes homeowners neglect to take care of their home's electrical wiring and that can set them up for potential danger. Electrical consumption since the middle of the last century has increased in most homes on average about 400 percent.

If you're tripping your main safety circuit box that could be a sign that you're overloading the electrical outlets and an indication that an electrical contractor should examine your wiring. Oftentimes, homes are renovated several times without any electrical wiring updated. Yet, this is a part of the house that can cause huge problems if it isn't kept up-to-date.

Outdated circuit boxes. When a home hits the 40-year mark the biggest area of electrical concern is the circuit breaker box. Zack Israel, owner of Mike Electric, says that when the circuit box becomes outdated, "it doesn't do what it's supposed to do." He says that as the house ages, the brand of the circuit box becomes obsolete "and today, a new generation of improved boxes is being installed." Israel cautions homeowners about the danger of not replacing an old and outdated circuit box. "If the breaker doesn't trip then the wire might melt and cause a fire," says Israel.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

William Raveis Real Estate Wins Banker & Tradesman Gold Medal for Best of 2009 for The Second Year

THANK YOU to the readers of Banker & Tradesman for voting William Raveis Real Estate the “Best Residential Real Estate Company” in Massachusetts in the recent Best of 2009 Readers Poll

Receiving the distinguished First Place Gold Award two years in a row further validates our commitment to provide the highest caliber service to the residents of Massachusetts. Since entering the Bay State in 2003, William Raveis has grown significantly by attracting talented, experienced associates. This sales force of 500 associates has helped the company become the largest independent real estate firm in the state with 19 offices.

Our award-winning website,, is recognized as “the best website in real estate” and draws more than 10 million visitors annually. The most recent statistics show that more people visit than any other regional website in the Northeast. We invite you to visit us on and see why we have been chosen the “Best Residential Real Estate Company” in Massachusetts.

Will The $8,000 Homebuyer Tax Credit Be Expanded To Include All Buyers?

The Associated Press reports that top Democrats in the Senate are pressing a plan that would extend a popular tax credit for first-time home buyers but gradually phase it out over the course of next year.

The proposal, by Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus of Montana, would extend the $8,000 tax credit - which expires Nov. 30 - through March 31. Its value would drop by $2,000 for each of the subsequent three quarters of 2010.

The plan, which could face a vote in the Senate this week, appears aimed at countering a far more generous $17 billion bipartisan plan that would extend the $8,000 credit through June 30, 2010, boost the income cap for eligibility, and open the credit to all buyers, not just first-timers.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

House Shopping On A Rainy Day

Sunday, October 18, 2009, was a perfect example of the kind of dismal day that provides great information for a would-be buyer. (For the benefit of my out-of-town readers, Sunday was a dark, leaden-skied day. It was rainy and windy. By two o’clock or so, we had by wet snow. I was in Jamaica Plain, where it came down white and turned to mush beneath my feet. Farther from the city, they got a dusting that stuck. Those who roused themselves out from under the covers that day and went to open houses could find the following things:

1. Light:
It is easy to evaluate the interior light on a day like that. If there are going to be dark corners, you’d have seen them. Houses that looked fairly good last Sunday will be really good on other days. I spent all day Sunday turning lights off for my buyers, then turning them back on for the rest of the open house hunters.

2. Cold spots:
It is easy to find drafty spots on a day like that. Many open houses had signs requesting that guests take off their shoes. This gives the house hunters opportunities to feel cold floors (especially over open areas like porches and garages.) Careful hunters also check along baseboards and room edges for gaps in the insulation below. Use your hands on exterior walls to find gaps in the insulation. Feel around windows. Great windows that are poorly installed can have drafts all around them.

3. Water shedding:
When it rains heavily, problems with gutters and downspouts announce themselves. You need to go outside and look. If water is going to seep into the basement, you are likely to see it or smell it on a day like that. This was not a major storm. A house with chronic problems would show water, but one with rare occasional problems would still be OK.
One of my clients went back for a second showing because they wanted to see the place in real daylight. They made an Offer on Monday night. I am glad they did it, to satisfy themselves. But they realized that they didn’t need to, once they got there. It was not terribly dark on Sunday and it was quite bright at 5 PM on Monday.

Were you hunting tlast Sunday? Are you bold enough to turn off the lights and to check for drafts and leaks?

The Danger In Over-Pricing Your Home

If you are like most sellers, you want your home to sell for as much as possible. It’s only human nature. Therefore, you may be tempted to list your home for the very highest possible price and hope for the best. But if you are really serious about selling your home, this mindset can result in a long waiting game in which you can end up losing – significantly. Not only will your house eventually sell for less than it is worth if it sells at all; you also will have forfeited your ability to move on with your life within a reasonable timeframe.

Let’s begin by reviewing a meaningful, time-honored truism. Are you aware that your home has the best chance of getting a reasonable offer within the first three to six weeks on market if it is correctly priced to sell from the very beginning? If it isn’t properly priced, you can bet that your home will help similar properties in your neighborhood sell long before yours. Assuming that you do not want your home to promote the sale of all other homes but yours, what should you do?

The first step is to get a competent Realtor® to visit your home to understand what you believe are its best (and worst) features. Be honest, because buyers’ and especially their Buyer Agents’ eyes will be far more dispassionate and critical than yours. The next step is to have the Realtor show you what similar homes in your area have sold for within the past three (3) months in this changing market (a six-month look back would be more appropriate under level market conditions), how long it has taken them to sell, and how many price “adjustments” were necessary before they did sell. Your Realtor will also point out homes that did not sell, and therefore have become what are known as “expired” or “cancelled” listings.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Live At The Gateway To Sumner Hill

This wonderful 3,000+ square foot home is a condo in Jamaica Plain's fabulous Sumner Hill neighborhood that feels like a single family.

Built in 2001 as an addition to a stately Victorian this 2 Alveston Terrace has classic moldings and detail but it is laid out to accommodate the way we live today. Centrally located and close to restaurants, T and Jamaica Pond, you can be in the heart of the city in under ten minutes or take advantage of the wonderful park land surrounding Jamaica Plain. The main floor has open and spacious living/entertaining space with gas fireplace and a powder room. Second and third floors have four bedrooms and two full baths as well as a study and a great open deck for your box garden.

The basement is fully finished with hardwood floors, full bath and more than two thirds of it is above ground with two separate walk-out entrances. This space can be a fabulous family room and workshop or can accommodate an au pair suite or a home office with access to the street for client visits. Want more outdoor space? You'll love the deck off the dining room for grilling and entertaining and the front porch and beautiful garden. One garage space is deeded and there is bonus parking on an adjacent private way. Thi is an incredible property.

Exclusively Offered by Roberta Stone for $775,000

Pass the info on to friends who are shopping around. They can reach me at or 617-648-4459

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Record Streak Continues for Pending Home Sales

Pending home sales have increased for seven straight months, the longest in the series of the index which began in 2001, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contracts signed in August, rose 6.4 percent to 103.8 from a reading of 97.6 in July, and is 12.4 percent above August 2008 when it was 92.4. The index is at the highest level since March 2007 when it was 104.5.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said not all contracts are turning into closed sales within an expected timeframe. “The rise in pending home sales shows buyers are returning to the market and signing contracts, but deals are not necessarily closing because of long delays related to short sales, and issues regarding complex new appraisal rules,” he said. “No doubt many first-time buyers are rushing to beat the deadline for the $8,000 tax credit, which expires at the end of next month.”

The Pending Home Sales Index in the Northeast jumped 8.2 percent to 85.3 in August and is 12.0 percent higher than August 2008. In the Midwest the index rose 3.1 percent to 90.8 in August and is 7.6 percent above a year ago. In the South, pending home sales increased 0.8 percent to an index of 104.6 and is 8.2 percent above August 2008. In the West the index surged 16.0 percent to 130.5 and is 22.3 percent above a year ago.

Housing Tax Credit Working, So Keep Momentum Going, NAR Urges Congress

Consumers are just starting to see the first glimmers of a bright future for the housing market and the overall economy. It’s up to Congress to make that glimmer a reality by building on the momentum created by the $8,000 home buyer tax credit.
National Association of Realtors® First Vice President Ron Phipps today to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee during a hearing on “The State of the Nation’s Housing Market.”
“The data on the present home buyer tax credit show that the credit has had its intended impact—sales have jumped in recent months to a projected 5.1 million for the year and housing inventory has been trimmed, thus stabilizing home prices noticeably,” Phipps said. He also pointed out that each home sale generates approximately $63,000 in additional economic activity, providing a tremendous economic boost to the national economy.

One of the key ways to do that is for Congress to extend the home buyer tax credit, said

“But it is a fragile recovery, and now is the time to build on home sales momentum by extending the tax credit throughout 2010 and expanding it to all home buyers,” he said. The present credit, due to expire on November 30, cannot help new purchasers now who write a contract today—they won’t be able to close before the deadline, and will lose out on the credit, said Phipps. “Without congressional action now, the market and our national economy may freeze again—possibly as soon as this month.”

Phipps called upon Congress to take action on a number of additional fronts to strengthen the recovery. First, make the FHA and Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac loan limits permanent; these are set to expire on December 31. “Maintaining current loan limits would ensure that families have access to low-cost financing to purchase homes and can refinance problematic loans into safer, more affordable mortgages,” Phipps said.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Strong Gains In Existing-Home Sales Maintains Up Trend

For the first time in five years, existing-home sales have increased for four months in a row, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Existing Home Sales - including single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – rose 7.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate1 of 5.24 million units in July from a level of 4.89 million in June, and are 5.0 percent above the 4.99 million-unit pace in July 2008. The last time sales rose for four consecutive months was in June 2004, and the last time sales were higher than a year earlier was November 2005.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said he is encouraged. “The housing market has decisively turned for the better. A combination of first-time buyers taking advantage of the housing stimulus tax credit and greatly improved affordability conditions are contributing to higher sales,” he said
The monthly sales gain was the largest on record for the total existing-home sales series dating back to 1999. “Because price-to-income ratios have fallen below historical trends, there are more all-cash offers. In some recovering markets like San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Orlando, the demand for foreclosed and lower priced homes has spiked, and a lack of inventory is becoming a common complaint,” Yun said.

William Raveis Web Site Rocks

Have you visited lately?

If you haven’t you’re missing the best web site in real estate. From the home page full of real properties to the individual search functions where you can check out neighborhood restaurants, schools, grocery stores, and transportation, the Raveis site is head and shoulders above our competitors.

Navigation of our newly re-designed site features “mouse-over” navigation which is quick and easy to use. There are great features like our Housing Newsletter. When you sign up or request that I enroll you you will receive monthly updates of market info for homes targeted to your location of interest.

Roberta's Web Marketing SELLS

Hey, have you seen my personal web site, Many new buyers find me on the web when doing their property searches for the Metro Boston area. That’s why it makes good marketing sense to have me market your home, so that buyers from all over the country will find it on the web.
I also have high visibility nationally because I invest in an enhanced web presence on; the nation’s largest and most broadly aimed real estate web site. Buyers from all over the country who are searching for a home will find multiple photos, open house announcements, property narratives and a direct phone number so they can learn information about your home directly from me, the person who is the most informed about your home’s features.

Homes May Be Undervalued Today

After dropping for two years, home prices appear to be bottoming out, and any further declines would be an overcorrection, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun told thousands of practitioners at the REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.

The median national home price today is about $169,000, down almost 14 percent from a year ago and an estimated 30 percent from its peak. Today’s prices are justified by the fundamentals of the economy and may even represent an undervaluation, Yun said.

Lender Policies Hinder RecoveryDistressed sales, which today comprise about 50 percent of transactions nationwide, are creating market distortions in otherwise stable neighborhoods. “We’re only capturing transaction prices,” he said, and those prices might be 20 percent to 25 percent below actual values.

For that reason, it’s possible that widely cited projections that a third or more of homeowners are underwater might be off the mark, he said. The consequences of these missed projections could be huge. Lenders, shying away from refinancing mortgages of troubled owners, exacerbate the downward spiral of homeowners’ financial position and that, by extension, hurts the broader economy.Contributing to the problem is the lack of reasonably priced financing for higher-cost homes at a time when declining prices, low rates, and the home buyer tax credit are helping the entry-level market.
Indeed, while housing overall is at a 9.5 month supply, down from double digits not found that long ago, homes above $729,750—the threshold for jumbo loans—face a 40-month supply.

Key Test By summer, all of the incentives that have been put into place by the government will have had several months to work, Yun said. If sales start picking up significantly, then prices should stabilize and trigger a broader economic recovery.