Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours! Have a wonderful holiday from all of us at Benoit Mizner Simon & Co.
A New Generation With A New Approach To Homeownership
Selling To Millennials Takes Patience And Skill
By Sheryl Simon, Special to Banker & Tradesman
If you’re starting to sell to the “Millennial” generation, you know that this ever-growing portion of the population, considered anyone under the age of 34, is starting to move the market. Millennials are generally first-time buyers, heading out of the city and into the suburbs to find their dream homes. Those who have been able to buckle down and save enough for a down payment and get financing are well- equipped for a home purchase, but many thirty-somethings are still wary of making the leap into home ownership, and are over-whelmed at the concept. If you’re a broker helping this demographic purchase a property, there are some tips to consider that may streamline the process.
Know your audience. According to recent Pew Research on “The Boomerang Generation,” nearly eight out of 10 25-34 year olds (78 percent) say they don’t have enough money to live the kind of life they want to. Unlike the Baby Boomers, who wanted to strike out on their own, Millennials aren’t as eager to cut the apron strings or give up some of their indulgences. They often spend thousands of dollars on exotic vacations. That’s a significant amount of money that could be put into savings for a home purchase. Add that to the Netflix, eating out – even that morning latte, at $3 per day, is over $1,000 per year. Educate them on ways to cut back if they want to make the sacrifice.
Provide real, concrete numbers. Many Millennials don’t actually know how much they can actually afford, and are often surprised at what they’re able to buy within their price range. Although lending restrictions have tightened, and standard down payments run between 15 and 20 per-cent, there are several products out there that require as little as 10 percent down. There are other options, including FHA loans and other products that offer lower down payment requirements. Help them do their homework and research all available options, and connect them with a bank or financial institution you trust to explain the implications of each choice. Urge them to get their credit score before applying for a loan so that they can fix any deficiencies before someone else points them out. Be sure to walk them through this entire process before showing them the first listing.
Give them a step-by-step plan. Many prospective buyers in this age group have never made such a big life choice, and find the whole process overwhelming. Consider putting a presentation together specifically for the Millennial first-time buyer that includes information on getting financing, and counsels them on what to look for in an investment. Walk them through the process of locating a real estate attorney, mortgage broker, inspector and any number of other industry professionals they’ll need. They will need every bit of your expert advice and should know they’ve come to the right place.
Lay out different housing options. Often, homes or con-dos that need work turn out to be smarter and less expensive purchases. Educate your Millennial buyers about holding off on expensive renovations – and why it’s smart to live with what they can and make improvements in their own time. This may be a tall order, given the fact that few want to sacrifice their personal luxury for an investment in their future – but the smart ones will do just that. Working on their home when they can afford to will help build equity, which will be helpful when they eventually decide to sell. Consider having them look at alternate cities and towns from the one they have their heart set on; it may be a cost-effective option and is a good way to build equity. They should also consider purchasing a multifamily home – they can generate rent income to help offset costs.
Look for a motivated buying pool. Millennials could have a leg up on the competition if they consider purchasing a home in July or August, or during the holiday season. This is generally a slower time in real estate and sellers are more motivated to make a deal. With less urgency around signing a purchase and sale agreement, there’s a little more time for them to think through the decision. Home sales are becoming less seasonal, but there are still advantages to not buying when every-one else is. Also, have them look at inventory that has been sitting a while – those sellers are a bit more motivated to sell than those with homes just hitting the market with bigger buyer pools. The bottom line is, young, first-time home buyers are starting to really make an impact on the real estate market, and more and more of these “Millennials” are dictating trends. Many developers are now paying attention to their lifestyles and building to suit their needs. While it may require more work on the front end to walk them through the process, the end result will be an educated buyer who not only purchases his or her first home with your help – but becomes a repeat client far into the future. Explain to them that their first home is more of a stepping stone to homeowner-ship, and trading up in five to 10 years is always an option. Settling for less than what their dream home will be, and setting goals to achieve that dream home in the future, is good, solid advice. The short-term investment in time and resources will pay dividends in the long run for both of you.
Sheryl Simon is principal of Benoit Mizner Simon & Co.
Article was published in Banker & Tradesman on November 17, 2014.
New Construction Slow To Recover
Permits Up From Recent Lows
By Colleen M. Sullivan for Banker & Tradesman
Three years into the beginning of the housing recovery, one particular sub-sector of the housing market is still lagging behind: new construction. New construction has bounced back a bit from the depths of the housing crash: Data from the U.S. Census show 5,076 single-family home building permits issued in the Bay State through September, a 61 percent bump from their 2009 nadir, when only 3,153 were issued for that same period. But not only are those figures down slightly from the same point last year – 5,114 permits were issued in the first nine months of 2013, a 0.7 percent decline – they’re a molehill compared to the typical pre-crash figures. In 2004, for example, 10,591 single-family permits were issued through the first nine months. The relative dearth of new homes in part reflects a broader market shift: Across the country, home ownership rates have declined in the aftermath of the recession, as higher student loan debts and tightened credit guidelines have kept more households renting. Combined with a preference for denser, more urban living, that’s pushed builders to focus on bigger multifamily projects – while single-family permits made up two-thirds of the total permits issued in Massachusetts in 2004, in 2014 they’re less than half.
It’s not that the buyers aren’t out there. But “the challenge is that new construction is so time-consuming, and so laborious for the builders to meet all the local codes and go through the process, that the new construction is priced higher. If you’re in the Newton market, the Brookline market, there’s an appetite for new construction,” but entry-level buyers may find themselves out of luck, said Sam Schneiderman, principal broker with the Greater Boston Home Team and a buyer’s agents specialist.
Nationwide, the gap between the price of new construction and an existing home has widened to historic levels, hovering at more than $70,000 in recent months, according to data from the U.S. Commerce Department and the National Association of Realtors. Massachusetts is no exception to the trend. For example, according to data from The Warren Group, publisher of Banker & Tradesman, the median sale price for a single-family home in Plymouth through the first nine months of the year was $307,000. In the same town, new homes listed for sale on real estate portal Zillow range from $326,00 to $534,000.
It’s a similar story all over the Bay State, at a range of price points: Median sale price in Wrentham in the same period was $415,000; new home listings ranged from $538,000 to $573,000. In Holliston, median price was $439,000 through the first nine months; for sale new construction listing range from $748,000 to $830,000. In Reading, the median was $485,000; new construction listing range from $323,000 to $450,000. In Westfield, median price was $197,000, for construction listing range from $319,000 to $380,000.
Such gaps reflect the high – and rising – land costs, which have made building spec housing particularly difficult in recent years, said Amy Mizner, co-broker/owner of Benoit Mizner Simon. Even in her brokerage’s home base of Weston and Wellesley, “Everybody wants new construction. They want high ceilings, open spaces, and they don’t want to do the work. But we really don’t have a whole lot of land in the Metro-West,” she said. “With spec properties, the builders are having a hard time finding teardown lots that are affordable enough to do speculative homes.” That means that even for buyers who can afford new construction, acquiring such a property may mean commissioning a full-custom build, and signing on for months of delays and construction head-aches. “A lot of buyers, when they find out what it’s going to take to do custom, they’ll find they get better value if they [purchase an existing high-end home] and do some tweaks,” said Mizner.
Article was published in Banker & Tradesman on November 17, 2014.
Saturday, November 22nd:
Sunday, November 23rd:
Four Massachusetts towns are among the country’s top 10 most educated areas, according to a recent report by personal finance management website NerdWallet.
Out of the top 100 U.S. cities listed, Wellesley came in third, Brookline fourth, Newton sixth and Lexington seventh in terms of residents’ educational attainment.
Each town was scored according to the levels of education its residents achieved. The percentage of residents with a high school diploma counted for 40 percent of the total score, the percentage with a bachelor’s degree counted for 30 percent and master’s degrees, professional degrees and doctorates counted for 10 percent each.
According to the 2013 U.S. census, roughly 90 percent of citizens over the age of 25 have high school degrees and 30 percent hold bachelor’s degrees. Numbers decrease as the level of education increases, with 12 percent of citizens holding master’s degrees and about three percent holding doctorate or professional degrees.
So, how do the state’s smartest cities stack up?
Wellesley (photographed above), the home of Wellesley College and Babson, is apparently the most-educated town in Massachusetts, with almost 83 percent of residents having at least a bachelor’s degree.
Gracious center entrance Colonial beautifully sited on over an acre of land offers scenic view of the Charles River. Gracious foyer leads to expansive fireplaced living room and stunning dining room with hardwood floors. Bright and sunny library leads to private brick patio overlooking serene backyard. Generous kitchen opens to inviting family room with stunning oversized stone fireplace and back stair case leading to spectacular second floor play room. Master suite with four additional bedrooms and a three full bathrooms complete this magnificent property. Fantastic opportunity!
Stunning stucco Colonial in the heart of desirable College Heights neighborhood offers exquisite architectural details throughout. Expansive foyer welcomes you into this spectacular property. Sophisticated living room with oversized fireplace and hardwood floors opens to dining room with plantation shutters. Sun splashed beautifully updated kitchen includes picture window, built- ins and dining area which opens to family room with French doors. Master suite with full bath provides serene retreat. Two additional generous bedrooms complete the second floor. Outdoor space offers a secluded patio surrounded by lush gardens. Close to town, train and shops, fantastic location!
Come by the open houses we have showing this Sunday, November 16th!
Fantastic opportunity to build in this highly sought-after, south-side neighborhood. Bring your builder, your architect and your creativity to customize your dream home on this generous 1.38 lot, on a beautiful cul-de-sac street, surrounded by other luxurious homes, in one of Weston’s most desirable locations.
Public open houses are one of the most useful real estate tools employed to sell a home. One recent statistic put out by the National Association of Realtors that said that 1 in 10 buyers find their dream house at an open house. In this current market, that number is possibly even larger. Every Sunday many real buyers, some unrepresented by real estate brokers, drive around town and drop in to see what’s on the market. If you’re in real estate and you’re not out there doing open houses, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. Sunday open houses are like a big party! They can more than just fun, they can actually be very funny, even horribly funny at times. Here are a few examples of open houses from over the years to show you what NOT to do if you want to sell your home:
Unprepared…I arrive at my new listing, a large newish Colonial, about 15 minutes early, to find three to four couples already parked in front, eager to come in. As I go through the house, turning on lights, I hear the sound of water running. Much to my horror, I find Mrs. Seller in the shower. She’s running a bit late…but no worries, let them come in! Sadly, none of that first group of buyers even got a glimpse of the master bedroom!
Too personal…On a similar vein, I am once again going room by room to make sure the house is in open house condition and I get to the master bedroom walk in closet only to find peekaboo portraits staring at me from every wall and shelf! Sellers take heed, you are not for sale here!
Too wet…This time no one is to blame. It’s a beautiful day, I’m heading to the lower level, and the lovely new carpet is under about a foot of water. Sadly, the extra-large water tank chose this very morning to fail and its contents covered the entire basement.
Pets and more…I like animals well enough, but not at open houses. At best, pets are distracting. Buyers leave an open house where the family dog is gentle, obedient and sweet and all they remember about the house is the dog. At worst, buyers run from the house in fear, sneezing with allergies, holding their noses. I’ve seen talking birds screeching obscenities at guests, cats slinking around ankles and darting for the door. I’ve also seen dead mice still in their traps, bats in the attics and ant traps set all over kitchen counters…just not very appealing or conducive to selling the house.
Suspicious and creepy…When buyers walk through a house, they want to see the whole house. Locked doors, even in the most benign situations, make the buyer feel you’ve got something to hide. Never throw all your mess in a bedroom and lock the door, keep a grouchy dog in the mudroom and lock the door, store your guns in the den and lock the door. Instead, throw up the blinds, open the curtains (and the doors), turn on the lights! Make the house look inviting!
Dangerous and addictive…This little tip is not so funny. In all my years of holding open houses, I have never had to deal with a robbery but recently experienced an issue regarding prescription drugs. I always tell my sellers to clear their medicine cabinets and bedside tables of any and all pain killers or anything that might tempt an addict. It is very rare, but it can happen.
So sellers, put your flowers on the table, air out the house and turn on some soft jazz…it’s party time!