Needham a Hot Market

It wasn't long ago when Needham was a great alternative for people being priced out of Newton, Brookline and Wellesley. Needham borders Newton on one side and Wellesley on the other, but for many years few people have heard of the town until house hunting. It has small town charm, yet it has great features. It's schools are among the tops in the state, it is a very safe place to live and taxes are relatively low verses other desirable places. It is also convenient having several exits off 95 and it's relative ease to get to route 9 and Commonwealth Avenue. 

All these features have made it very attractive for buyers. Many houses are being torn down by developers and multi-million dollar homes are going up. Once a town that was an alternative is now pricing many home buyers out. 

Hubstar Realty currently has a listing that is not on the market yet. It is a three bedroom raised ranch in Needham Junction near the Wellesley line. This 3 bedroom, 1800 square feet house features a large back yard and an in ground pool. The house is on a quiet street and was completely renovated just three years ago. It has a brand new kitchen, bathrooms, roof and furnace. It would be difficult for anyone to find a more turn key ready to move in place than this property. 

The house is in the extremely desirable Newman school district and is within a 5 minute drive to the school. On a nice day you may even choose to walk there instead. The home owners wanted a open concept with their house and the renovations made the house perfect for family gatherings or just being able to watch your kids and cook. 

There are not many opportunities to take advantage of a house prior to it going on the market. To get more information, feel free to contact Jason Chan at Jason@hubstarrealty.com or call him at 857-250-3803. 

Natick, the Best Place to Buy a House?

One rule of real estate always rings true, location, location, location. Perhaps the most important aspect about a property is where that property is located. In Massachusetts, there are cities and towns that are always going to be hot markets. Brookline, Weston, Wellesley, Belmont, Newton had busy real estate markets even during the mortgage crisis. Their relative proximity to the Boston, public safety, combined with a great school system has made them very desirable places to raise a family.

If you are from Massachusetts most people know where the desirable city and towns are located. Perhaps the biggest complaint is when we hear people express their distress of how they are priced out of their desired location. And the truth is people are being priced out of many of their desired towns. Low inventory combined with high demand has driven prices sky high in a lot of these communities. As a result, people are thinking about alternative approaches to buying a home.

One approach is buyers try to find the largest house they can afford and expand or renovate. This is generally a sound plan. However, when developers are buying houses for 600+ thousand dollars just to have the right to knock down a house and build a million dollar mansion it quickly kills that idea. Another approach is to figure out where is the next place to “pop”. That means what location is still somewhat affordable, but will likely to increase in value once you get there. Once the house increases in value you can sell and move to a more desirable town or you can sell for a bigger house in the same town. The equity will hopefully give you the dream home that you desire.

Predicting the next hot market at best is an educated guess. There are many factors that contribute to a town or city’s property increasing in value. Some of these factors include the economy, buying habits, municipal decisions and school progress. And with our educated guess we will be highlighting some communities that we believe have the best chance of increasing in value. This week, we are guessing Natick. Natick has a good school system and a growing economy. Natick has restaurants, malls and supermarkets. It has commuter rail service downtown, shuttle to Logan airport and enjoys quick access to Mass Pike and Rout 9. Natick is a town that is surrounded by communities people are being priced out of such as Newton, Wellesley and Wayland.  

In some cases Natick’s house prices has risen by $100,000 in single year. Many people are starting to consider Natick which gives you more living square footage and outside space for your money. If you are planning on starting a family and being priced out of towns and cities you desire, you may want to consider Natick before it is too late. 

Owner Financing: Boston Investment Property Buying Strategy

A lot of investment properties in Boston are being purchased with cash. A recent report stated that cash purchases have increased in the last 5 years. Unless you have a lot of liquid capital, you may want to try to finance your investment property. Getting a mortgage for your place through a bank can be tricky. Many banks want more than a traditional 20% down payment for an owner occupied home. You can see requirements of 25-30% for investment properties. Banks will also charge higher interest rates for investment properties. The banks try to justify the higher interest rates by arguing it is more risky to lend to investors. They reason that if a property is owner occupied it is less likely to default because the lender is living there and has increased incentive to keep the payments going.

Hubstar realty works with many owners and may be able to help you craft a third way to own your property. Sometimes called owner financing, essentially the buyer would pay the owner a down payment and then the buyer makes payments until the debt is fully paid. If you decide to live in the apartment then you can think about what would’ve been your rent to go towards paying off the loan.  If you don’t decide to live in the apartment you can collect the rents and use it towards loan repayment.

As of right now Hubstar has a property in Allston that you could use owner financing on:

  • Allston Condo right on Commonwealth Avenue, 3rd Floor
  • 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom
  • 975 Square Feet
  • Hardwood floors, granite counter tops
  • $535,000
  • $460 condo fee, $260 taxes

This property is currently being rented out for $2,400 a month. The renters are willing to stay and property has strong rental history. The owner is asking for 30% down payment and would be giving the buyer 3 years to make payments for the remainder. If you are interested in buying the place straight out that is also preferable. 

The Season to Buy

  Photo by    Kittisak

Photo by Kittisak

The most popular times to buy property generally start in the spring and ends in the fall. There are several reasons for why this time spring to fall is popular. First, the weather plays a large factor. When the weather is nice out there are a lot more people willing to go to an open house and look at houses. When it is raining or even worse snowing open house numbers decrease dramatically.

Aside from just a pure numbers stand point, the summer season makes sense because many home buyers have children. And if you have a child, the school year is a super busy time for your family. Many families are also reluctant to move while their child is in school. And with so many holidays in the fall to spring it is difficult to find the time to buy real estate.

The “slow” time of year for real estate does create an opportunity for homebuyers. It may be your best chance to find the deal you want. If a house has been on the market for the summer and has yet to get a buyer, the seller may be willing to negotiate a lot more than during the busy season. Many sellers will not have the patience to wait to sell their properties in the spring and be willing to reduce the price.

Buying a house in the winter may also come with some problems. First, it is often more difficult to get the paperwork completed during the holidays. It is also difficult to look and assess houses when there is a lot of snow on the ground. That being said, snow also brings the unique opportunity to see how the home will hold up during the winter months. What better way to see if the basement floods, or will have ice dam issues than to see the house in action during a snow storm.

In the end, the best chance to get a bargain is in the winter months. If you luck out with some nice weather and willing to walk around in the cold it can lead you to the best deals. With 4 weeks until Thanksgiving and 7 weeks until Christmas happy Holiday shopping to you. 

Biggest bang for your buck when fixing up investment properties in Boston

One of the best ways increase the value of your property value is to do improvements on your house. You may have a bunch of projects in your place, so which ones should you prioritize? It depends on a number of factors, but for the most part, the following gives you a list that you should consider.

 

1.       Adding a bedroom

Adding a bedroom is the best way to increase the value in your rental. Depending on the location of your property, it can increase your rents by $500-$700 per month in many places in Boston. Adding a bedroom can be tricky and you certainly don’t want to add a bedroom that would make the apartment a fire hazard. Also you should be extremely careful about renting out a basement unless it is property zoned with proper fire exits. To qualify as a bedroom, it must have a window and a built in closet. The window needs to be a proper size for a bedroom to allow fire fighters access to the room. Many properties in Boston are old and oddly shaped. Many times you may be able to use a part of a giant living room or oversized bathroom to make an extra bedroom.

2.       Kitchen

Food is coming back into the discussion in a big way and more and more renters are getting into cooking again. Spicing up the kitchen with new appliances, cabinets, and granite counter tops is an excellent way to attract people willing to pay higher rents. However, kitchens are also not cheap rooms to redo. To make for affordable renovations try to think clean look versus luxurious. A good cleaning and some upgrades will make the kitchen go a long way.

3.       Bathrooms

Even though people don’t spend much time in the bathrooms, it is always difficult to get people to pay more rent when the bathroom is gross. Hire a good company to clean the bathroom and make the necessary upgrades to keep it clean and tidy. Once again a clean bathroom can go a long way.

4.       Flooring/Lighting

Renters want their place to look nice and be bright. Most places in Boston have hardwood. The best way to class up a place is to get the floors redone and polished. Many old Boston apartments were built to last and some have beautiful hardwood. The problem is with so much usage, the wood becomes dull and shows marks. If you hire a good company to buff the floors, it will make a huge difference. Good, clean floors make the whole place look great. Add some lighting features to brighten up the place. This is most important with apartments that don’t have a lot of natural light. 

5.       Parking

Seems silly, but if you have a big lot you may want to consider paving more of it to create two parking spaces. Parking is very difficult to find in the city and car spots rent out for $100 or more in many parts. You certainly have to make sure that your property is zoned properly to pave more spaces. If it turns out that you are allowed to add spaces, that can be an easy way to make more profit. 

Investment Property-Turning a “B” Property to an “A” Property in Boston

Many people know that investing in real estate is a good idea. However, most individuals don’t know where to start. We see millions of shows on television, such as HGTV Flip or Flop. The high stakes money involved and stress are enough to make one thoroughly scared of investing in property. Flipping houses may be great drama on television, but it is really not for the novice investor for many reasons. Some of these reasons include the lack of funding, the lack of knowledge of construction, and the lack of other resources to flip a property quickly.

The main reason why most people love the idea of flipping properties is the potential for a big return. Say you pay $200,000 on a tear down property and building a million dollar home, the return can be enormous. However, the risks that are associated with it are also very high. If you don’t do it correctly, the results could be financially devastating.

For novice investors, it may make more sense to go with the strategy of turning a B property to an A property. The return isn’t as great, but the risk is also reduced. The theory is to buy a property that is nice and rentable as of right now, but to add the amenities to increase the rent or sale price of the units. This can be done by adding certain stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and hardwood floors. Even recess lighting can increase the value of the home. The construction time is going to be much quicker than tearing a place down and rebuilding it, which will allow you to rent or sell the house in a quicker period of time. At the end of the day, you want to try to make money as soon as possible.

Flipping properties remain a good way to make money, however, flipping properties isn’t for everyone. If you are new to investment properties, don’t feel as though flipping is the only way to make money.