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Early Spring

It seems that Spring has sprung a little early this year!  No, unfortunately I am not talking about the weather – but instead, I am talking about the real estate market.  There is a lot of activity out there.  Pent up demand mostly, but it’s bigger than that.  Sellers have gotten much more realistic about the pricing of their properties and Buyers seem to understand that.  Since the first of the year, twenty-five properties in Swampscott and Marblehead have already sold and another thirty-six are under agreement.

What does that mean for you?  It means that if you are ready to make a change, now is a great time! Give us a call, we can’t wait to talk to you!

What would you do?

I had an interesting ethical/legal concern rear its head this morning and I have been contemplating it all day.  I’d like to get your take on it.

I was showing one of my listings to a potential client and they informed me that in order to buy, they would have to sell their condo first.  They told me the location of the condo and I mentioned that I was closing on a unit in that complex next week.  Through the course of the conversation, they asked which unit I was selling and, after I told them, they told me, matter-of-factly, that the owner prior to the current owner had committed suicide in the unit.  I was not aware of this fact nor had the listing agent made me aware of this.  For the record, I am representing the buyer, in this case.

Mind you we are closing on Tuesday, September 28th, today is Thursday, September 23rd.  Do you think I have an ethical or legal obligation to tell my buyer?

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Well, the answer is that I do not have a legal obligation to tell my client, nor did the listing agent have an obligation to tell me.  I have posted a link to Massachusetts General Law that specifically deals with this situation.

Ethically, however, I do feel that I have an obligation to my buyer to disclose everything I know about the property he/she is buying.  As soon as I was made aware of this previously unknown fact, I called my buyer and shared my newfound knowledge.  Fortunately, he/she was unaffected by the news and we are moving toward closing next Tuesday.

What would you have done if you were in my situation?

http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartI/TitleXV/Chapter93/Section114

PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
(Chapters 1 through 182)

TITLE XV REGULATION OF TRADE

CHAPTER 93 REGULATION OF TRADE AND CERTAIN ENTERPRISES

Section 114 Real estate transactions; disclosure; psychologically impacted property

Section 114. The fact or suspicion that real property may be or is psychologically impacted shall not be deemed to be a material fact required to be disclosed in a real estate transaction. “Psychologically impacted” shall mean an impact being the result of facts or suspicions including, but not limited to, the following:

(a) that an occupant of real property is now or has been suspected to be infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus or with Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or any other disease which reasonable medical evidence suggests to be highly unlikely to be transmitted through the occupying of a dwelling;

(b) that the real property was the site of a felony, suicide or homicide; and

(c) that the real property has been the site of an alleged parapsychological or supernatural phenomenon.

No cause of action shall arise or be maintained against a seller or lessor of real property or a real estate broker or salesman, by statute or at common law, for failure to disclose to a buyer or tenant that the real property is or was psychologically impacted.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, the provisions of this section shall not authorize a seller, lessor or real estate broker or salesman to make a misrepresentation of fact or false statement.

Put Down the Droid

Ok, I’ll be the first to admit it – call me what you will; gadget junkie, technology geek, it doesn’t matter, I know what I know, I like what I like and I will master any new toy that I get my hands on.  Some call me compulsive, others call me driven – either way my obsession with gadgets is as much a benefit to my clients as it is to me.

The “why” should be pretty clear, but let me explain.  I am always connected.  You can reach me by phone, by text and by email whenever you want and I will be instantly alerted.  It doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing – if you need me, I’m there.  I can hear you saying, that’s easy – I can get to anyone that way these days.  That’s mostly true – though there are still a few holdouts.

But being a gadget junkie takes it to the next level.  Because of my connectivity, you can get in touch with me anytime to ask a question.  Jill, is this house still on the market?  Jill, what is my home worth?  Jill, what is available between $500,000-$700,000 in Marblehead with at least three bedrooms and two baths?  Jill, why did the chicken cross the road? Etc.

I can answer any of these questions, regardless of where I am, in less than 10 minutes.  Seriously.  Last Thursday I was out for coffee with a friend and was asked one of the very questions listed above.  She wanted to know what was currently available in Marblehead that met her specific criteria.  Within 3 minutes, I had MLS (the Multiple Listing Service) loaded, performed the search, and we were discussing the available properties.  Now, I often have my laptop with me when I am out of the office/house and could have found the properties on that device.  This time, however, I only had my Droid.  My Droid gives me the power of the universe, right in the palm of my hand.

How did I get this way?  Years ago when I was applying for a job at Lotus, the hiring manager asked me why they should hire me.  I told him “I love technology.”  He thought that was a crazy answer, but it helped me get the job.  I still love technology – I can’t help myself when it comes to new gadgets.   So, friends and clients, feel free to take advantage of my technological skills.  The door is always open and the (green) light is always on.

Indulge me, just for a moment, my dear friends and clients.  Last Saturday, my mom, my daughter and I spent the day at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.  For those of you who don’t know, 12 million immigrants to the United States were processed at the Ellis Island Immigration Station between 1892 and 1954.  Today, over 100 million Americans, one third of the population, can trace their ancestry to the immigrants who passed through Ellis Island.

I don’t have the words to describe how awed the three of us were as we combed through the museum, looking at pictures of the immigrants, searching for records on our family, reading placards about the immigrants’ experiences and about their hopes and dreams for their newly adopted country.  These immigrants, all 12 million of them, came looking for the American Dream.

One of my favorite placards read as follows:

“I came to America because I heard the streets were paved with gold. When I got here, I learned three things; first, the streets were not paved with gold. Second, they were not paved at all. Third, I was expected to pave them.”

These new Americans were ready to work as hard as was necessary to make a new life.  Many men came alone to get established before sending home for the rest of their families.  They wanted to get a job, work as hard as possible and provide a comfortable existence for their loved ones.   Over and over again, we saw stories that ended with, “…I bought a modest home and sent for my family.”

There it is, the American Dream, home ownership.  The dream that rings as true today as it did 100 years ago.

Dear reader, if you ever get to New York/New Jersey, I strongly encourage you to visit this gem of a museum.  When you re-board the ferry to leave Ellis Island and ferry over to the Statue of Liberty, you will be filled with a sense of awe.  As the Lady’s long shadow looms before you, you will most certainly feel your ancestors wrapping their warm arms around you, sharing their first moments in their new land. Lady Liberty’s welcoming beacon was the first image they saw when they entered the harbor on their way to their new lives and the American Dream.

1984

Remember 1984?  When George Orwell wrote about it – 1984 was the future.  Now it seems like the distant past.

For me, 1984 was the beginning – the beginning of my real estate career.  I can’t believe that it’s been twenty six years. Twenty six years of change.  The world keeps spinning and so do we.  Along with everything else the Real Estate industry is not the same today as in years past.  In 1984 we used carbon paper to make extra copies of offers and listing sheets, today we just need to go to the copy machine and in an instant we have as many copies as we need.  When we needed to send an important paper or make changes to a Purchase and Sales Agreement, we either had to send it by mail or, if time was of the essence, we had to get in the car and track down the attorney, the other agent or the client to get the changes made and signed off.  Boy things have changed.  Things really changed with the invention of the fax machine and then even more when email became the way to do business.  Now contract changes that used to take all day or longer to complete, can take mere minutes.  We always have to keep in mind that in any business time is of the essence when it comes to contracts and Real Estate is no exception.

The computer, now there is a story in itself. Back In those olden days we received a book of listings from the MLS service twice a month. By the time we became aware of the “new” listings on the market, many were already sold!  Today we have daily access to the MLS service by computer.  Not only are we notified of listings daily (even hourly) so are our prospective clients.  Just by logging into OUR website our clients have all the information available at their fingertips.  The world has opened up to so many people thru web surfing.

Today’s consumer is much more savvy – whether you use your home computer, laptop, IPod Touch or mobile phone you have access to knowledge, information and education.   This has changed my role as a Realtor.  In days past, the first part of my job was to provide the education that today’s consumer often finds for him or herself.  Now, because of the access to the available information, it is more imperative than ever to work with an experienced Realtor who always has your best interest at heart.  Your Realtor can help you digest all of the information you have gathered and synthesize it so that it makes sense for you and your needs, even when that information is conflicting.  Together we become a team, making the buying or selling of property an easier and more enjoyable process.  Jill and I are always available when you are!   Like I said, the world keeps spinning and we so do we!    dg

Diana Goldberg is the senior member of the Heartbeat Properties team and one of the original agents at Sagan Realtors.

Buying a house can be a daunting process and without the right information can be downright unnerving, especially if you are first time home buyer.  There are a lot of moving parts and costs associated with buying a house.  Understanding them up front will give you the peace of mind you need to move forward.  Let’s take a look at some of these moving parts and costs.  This article will focus on your deposits, inspection, mortgage application and attorney’s fees.

Deposits

In Massachusetts, there are two deposits that are made prior to buying a property.  The first one is given at the time you make an offer.  This deposit check is made out to the Listing Agent’s office and is held in an escrow account by the Broker.  The second deposit, usually in the neighborhood of 5% of the purchase price (less the dollar amount of the initial deposit), is made when you sign the Purchase and Sales Agreement, generally fourteen days from the day the offer is accepted.  This deposit is also held in escrow by the Listing Agent’s office.

As a buyer, you have two opportunities to recoup your deposits, both based around contingencies that are built into your offer.

The first is your inspection contingency.  After you have the home inspected, you will receive a report from your inspector with regard to the property’s condition.  It will be incumbent on you to determine if the items found in the inspection are big enough to require a renegotiation of the selling price.  A buyer has a right to ask for items to be fixed or for the seller to lower the selling price in order for the buyer to fix these items after closing.  If the buyer and seller can’t come to an agreement regarding these fixes, either party has the right to walk away from the deal and the buyer gets their deposit back.

The second is your financial contingency.  If you cannot get a financial commitment from your lender by the date in your offer, generally thirty days from the accepted offer, then the contract will be terminated and you will get back all of your deposit money.  If your lender feels that you can get the commitment but needs a few days to work on it, then both parties can agree, in writing, to get an extension on the initial date.

Other Buyer Costs

Loan Application fees – when you apply for a mortgage, the lender will charge you fees for the application.  Be sure to ask your lender what these fees are as they vary from lender to lender.  Also be sure to ask what the fee includes.

Inspection fee – the buyer pays for the inspection.  If you do not know of a reputable inspector ask your Realtor for a few suggestions.  Call them, talk to them, see who makes you feel comfortable.  Don’t forget to ask what they charge for their services.

Attorney’s fees – You will want to hire a real estate attorney to work on your behalf to review your Purchase and Sales Agreement.  Again, if you do not have an attorney, ask your Realtor for suggestions.

Please let me know if this information is helpful and provides you with the peace of mind that a new home buyer needs.

Remember, Diana and I are here for all of your real estate needs.  If you or any of your family and friends have any questions or are looking to buy or sell real estate, give us a call!

Every decision you make is driven by other decisions you have already made and will impact decisions you make in the future.

Over the past few years, I have noticed a growing trend in my client base – women who are suddenly thrust into the role of decision maker.  Whether this was their decision or not, they find themselves grappling with a myriad of decisions regarding their living situation.  Some of them find this very intimidating and are afraid to make the first move.

The scariest part about making the first move is the fear of stepping into the unknown.  This fear is what keeps people from moving forward in their lives. Sometimes change is thrust upon us and sometimes we initiate it.  In either case, we are afraid of the resulting havoc that may ensue.

My goal is to help my clients navigate these changes and make decisions with confidence. In each step of their journey, I am there to empower them to keep moving in the right direction.  To aid me in this effort, I have worked with a number of independent professional women in many fields to build a strong network referral list.  This list crosses professions such as real estate law, mortgage lending, family relations law, insurance, home décor, etc.

The combined professional knowledge and expertise of the women on my referral list can guide you down the decision-making path, regardless of your situation. And because of the vast experience and years in our individual businesses, if you need other resources, you can turn to us to steer you in the right direction.

If you, or anyone you know, can benefit from a real estate agent who has “been there”, please call.  I am here to help you get started on your decision making path.

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