Blog :: 2015

Midnight Madness at The Shanahan Group!

Midnight Madness comes to BHGRE The Shanahan Group!

Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group is excited to open its doors for this year’s Midnight Madness in Winchester on Monday, 11/30/15 starting at 6 PM. We will be showcasing several local artisans, supplying a physical storefront right on Thompson Street so they can join in on this fun annual tradition – similar to a Winter Farmer’s Market right in our own office! Joining us that evening are the following merchants:

• Kelly Bennett, Rodan & Fields Skincare Consultant:
• Denise Konicek, Quilts and Tilework:
• Checka Antifonario, Childrens’ Meditation CDs
• Katy Downey, Padmala Jewelry:
• Sara Brown, Sara’s Creative Costumes (homemade childrens’ costumes)
• Debbie Taylor Smith, A Simply Sassy Design (Scarves & Glass / Wood serving pieces)
• Lynch Elementary Go Direct Fundraising, (Cookbooks, Phone Covers)

Just added! Preppy Personals will join us from 9-10PM. Custom printing and so much more!

Come support small, local business and stop by to see us at 41 Thompson Street!

Thank you to Dara Singleton for organizing our Midnight Madness effort!

Gobble, Gobble!!

It's time for Turkey! 

It's that time of year again at Better Homes and Gardens The Shanahan Group! Plans are being finalized now for the 5th annual Kids Turkey Trot. It's amazing that it's been five years and we couldn't be happier to organize this great event for such an amazing cause. 

Five summers ago, Nan and I were watching my sons taking a tennis lesson (thanks, WinRec!) and talking about fall plans for the office. We knew we wanted to host an event but not sure what or when. We got talking about having a fun run on Thanksgiving, like other towns have annually. Nan suggested we start one here. Well, after a little research, we quickly realized that might be too big a task to take on for the fall. So we scaled down a bit and kept it for the kids- particularly the little ones. Through our connections to FAN (I was the current membership chair and Paula Sughrue had previously filled that role), we had the perfect audience. Our colleague Lulu Coakley has been a huge supporter of the Bridget Brigade and we knew that they would be a perfect cause for our event. And so it was born! 

I remember standing there after the first Trot was finished and being amazed at our turnout (we really thought it might be the Sughrue, Garrett and Coakley kids that first year!). Even at the 2013 TT, when our pens stopped working and all of our balloons popped with the frigid temps, we had a huge crowd! 

We are honored to host the event again this year and always share lots of giggles and fun along the way. Thank you again to all of our partners and sponsors for helping us make the Turkey Trot come alive every year. On a day when we stop to give thanks for our blessings, we are happy to start the morning with our friends and neighbors, supporting a cause that helps families care for their sick children. 

Online registration is now open and... this year our Turkey is now on Twitter and Instagram #TurkeyTrot2015! Follow us to see how things come together and for race day pictures.  

Hope to see you this Thanksgiving!

Gobble Gobble!

Your 2015 Turkey Trot Committee:

Paula Sughrue

Lulu Coakley

Rebecca Brennan-Laird

Molly Byrne

Nic Gatto

Karen Garrett

Dara Singleton

Felicity Tuttle

Melissa Perrone

Important Notice for Prospective Homebuyers

Not the most exciting topic in real estate, but really important. 

At BHGRE The Shanahan Group, our job is to make sure that the purchase or sale (or both) of your home goes smoothly and that your interests are protected. We have recently become aware of a rising trend in the number of scams or attempted identity theft, at both the national and local levels. In a bustling spring market, it's not a fun topic to blog about but it's something we should all be aware of. Below is a note from our broker/owner, Nan Shanahan outlining these threats and how to protect your identity and your money- even in this crazy spring market!

A Note from Nan

Dear Clients and Friends, 


Recently there have been increased reports across the nation of a theft scheme that involves hackers stealing email addresses and sending fraudulent wiring instructions to homebuyers and tenants. Realtors®, lawyers, title agents and buyers could be affected. The criminal scheme has many variations and this notice is not intended to describe each situation. As an actual or prospective buyer or tenant, we want to alert you to the situation so that you can minimize the risk that you could be a victim.


We strongly recommend that before you wire any funds to any party (including your own lawyer, real estate broker or title agent whom you know to be involved in your transaction) that you personally call them to verify the wire instructions (you should confirm the ABA routing number or SWIFT code and the credit account number). You should call them at a number that you have obtained on your own (e.g., the sales contract, their website, etc.) and should not use the phone number that is contained in any email - even if the email appears to be from someone you know. A common aspect of the scheme involves the criminal hacking the sender's email (unbeknownst to them) and sending you an email that looks like other legitimate emails you have received from that party. The email contains the criminal's wire instructions and may contain the criminal's phone number and once your funds are wired by your bank to the criminal's account there may be no way to recover those funds.



It's a busy time of year in real estate where transactions happen very quickly and involve many people. Take the time to carefully read emails and documents and contact your agent and your attorney whenever you have a question or if something seems strange along the way.

All the best this spring, 




This Important Notice is not intended to provide legal advice. You should consult with a lawyer if you have any questions.

2015 Homebuyers Seminar: Have questions about buying a home? We have answers.

2015 Home Buying Seminar!

Are you a first-time homebuyer who is confused by the process and wondering how to get started? Are you a second- or third-time homebuyer who wants some insight into today's market?

You have questions. We have answers.

At 6pm on March 4, 2015, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group is hosting a no obligation home buying seminar at the offices of Ligris + Associates, 1280 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge.


Real Estate professionals will be on hand to answer any questions you have.

Karen Garrett and Caroline Staudt, Realtors at The Shanahan Group, will provide a brief overview of the home buying experience from start to finish and will address common questions about today's market.

Martha Harvey of Mortgage Network will discuss the mortgage process.

Jeffrey Shargel of Ligris + Associates will review the legal aspects of buying a home.

Ray Jackson of Jackson Home Inspection will walk you through the home inspection and what you can expect.

Following brief presentations from each of our experts, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you still have.

Light snacks will be served. Space is limited.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Caroline Staudt at We look forward to seeing you on March 4!


Can't wait to learn more?

Visit our Buyers page anytime to understand the home buying process and The Shanahan Group's perspective on how to be successful. 





Bidding Wars Happen. How Can Buyers Win?

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Buyers in our area have heard stories of houses selling with upwards of ten offers for tens-of-thousands (or even hundreds-of-thousands) over the list price. Many buyers have even been involved in some of these so-called bidding wars. And we expect to see bidding wars continue through this spring market.


Caroline Staudt explains what buyers need to

understand about bidding wars:


Every situation is unique.

No two buyers and no two listings are the same. Engaging a thoughtful, knowledgeable buyer's agent to represent you, and only you, in your home search an important first step. Much like the listing agent, whose fiduciary duties are to the seller, a buyer's agent owes her fiduciary duties to  you, the buyer. This enhances the agent's ability to guide and advise you and your family on forumulating the best offer on any given home.

A seller is not obligated to, and may not always, accept the highest offer.

Other terms and factors such as financing (e.g., a cash offer being more attractive than a 5% down offer), closing date, inspections, and even pure emotion of the seller can also factor into a seller's decision. Again, a buyer's agent can work with you to consider each of these terms when making an offer.

Price does still matter.

Win the Bidding War

Sellers may not always take the highest offer, but price does matter - a lot. When considering making a bid well over the asking price, think about what the house is worth objectively by looking with your agent at comparable sales and also what the house is worth to you. Then balance those two factors. Also, depending on your financing, speak with your agent about whether there could be appraisal issues with an offer significantly over the asking price.

There is no protocol for how a seller should handle multiple offers.

A seller reviewing multiple offers may choose to (1) accept the highest offer that comes in, (2) go back to some or all of the potential buyers for a "Best and Final" offer, (3) counter to one of the buyers but not the others, or (4) reject all offers. Provided that Fair Housing and other applicable laws are not violated, there are no rules for how a seller can handle and respond to offers. It is the job of your buyers's agent to arm you with as much information as possible so together, you can prepare an offer that stands out from the crowd, no matter which approach the seller takes.

Use caution when waiving contingencies.

Buyers may hear stories about other buyers waiving mortgage contingencies and inspection contingencies. This approach is not for the faint of heart and has the potential to lead to big problems down the road. While waiving contingencies may be what it takes to ultimately get a specific home, you should be sure to speak to your agent, your lender, and perhaps even your attorney if you are considering going down this path. Your agent should also be able to work with you to formulate a strong offer while limiting your risk.

Remember that not every listing will see a bidding war.

Remember, every situation is unique. Many houses - whether because of price or location or some other intangible factor - will not sell immediately with multiple offers. Do not assume when looking at listings that every house will sell for over the asking price with multiple offers. Do not be afraid to enter into the market for fear of being involved in a bidding war.

Bidding wars are a challenge for buyers. By definition, some buyers will miss out on homes that they want to buy - perhaps even dream homes. There are ways, however, that a buyer's agent can help you through the process to increase the chances of winning the bidding war. If you have any questions  about multiple offers, if you are thinking about buying or selling, or if you want to speak with an agent about current market conditions, please give us a call. 

Why You Need to be Pre-Approved for a Mortgage. NOW.

In what's expected to be a very competitive Spring Market, Caroline Staudt spells out exactly why you should get a pre-approved for a mortgage NOW.


Many homebuyers start their home search by going to a real estate website, such as, and searching in a specific town for homes with X bedrooms and Y baths. Then they look at the beautiful pictures, fall in love with their dream home online, and call a Realtor to show them the house. Some of these buyers may have a sense of what they can afford whereas others may not. 

While looking at pictures is more exciting than thinking about the numbers, this is a classic example of putting the cart before the horse. In this competitive market, unless you are buying a home with cash, you need to talk to a lender first and get pre-approved prior to starting your search.

What is a pre-approval?

When you speak to a lender to get pre-approved, the lender will request and review many of the documents that she will need in order to approve your loan - paystubs, W-2s for the last two years, two years of federal tax returns, two months of bank statements, and your credit report. With this information, she will determine the amount you will be able to borrow and will help you understand what this translates into in terms of monthly payments. She will then provide you with a letter that states that you have been pre-approved for a loan up to the stated amount - also known as a pre-approval letter.

Why do you need the pre-approval?


1. Help you understand what you can afford:

Prior to looking at homes, it is important for buyers to have a realistic understanding of what they can afford. For some buyers, the number may be a welcome surprise whereas for others, it might be a disappointment. In either case, it is essential to know what you can afford before falling in love with your dream home. When you and your Realtor understand what you can afford, you can limit your housing search accordingly and save yourself both time and potential heartache.

2. Give yourself time to improve your credit score:

If, in the process of getting pre-approved, you learn that your credit score is lower than you hoped or that there is an error in your credit report, lenders can often work with you to correct any mistakes and to improve your score. This could help increase the amount for which you are approved or reduce your interest rate.

3. Be ready to put in an offer:

Without a pre-approval, you cannot buy a house. Period. A seller will not review an offer from a non-cash buyer that does not include a pre-approval letter. You do not want to be in a position where you fall in love with a home that you might in fact be able to afford but not to be able to put an offer on it because you have not yet been pre-approved. It is better to be pre-approved prior to searching so that as soon as you find that house, you can make a strong offer. For some buyers this happens quicker than you may think!


If you are starting your home search and are now convinced that you should get pre-approved, we at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate - The Shanahan Group can recommend trustworthy and reliable lenders who would be happy to speak with you and help you get pre-approved. Give us a call. Here comes the spring market! 


Low Housing Inventory Means a Great Time to Sell in Winchester!

It's a great time to sell! Better Homes and Gardens The Shanahan Group's Nic Gatto explains why.


Low Inventory = Great Time to get Top Dollar for your House

The Winchester real estate market had a very good year in 2014 with average home values rising 6.3% from their 2013 levels, according to Interest rates remain at record lows, with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage currently at 3.86%. Qualified buyers are currently waiting on the sidelines to swoop in and purchase, even over-pay for homes. Winchester’s top rated school system, along with its close proximity and easy commuter rail access to Boston, has potential buyers lining up.

Right now only twelve of twenty-eight total properties for sale in Winchester are priced under $1Million. You don’t have to be Alan Greenspan to understand the principals of supply and demand, it is a very simple concept.

When there are only a few homes for sale and many qualified buyers, prices will inevitably rise. This places homeowners in a great position to sell their homes for the most money possible. 

Historically, sellers have placed their properties on the market at the start of spring, as that is the time of year buyers begin looking for new homes. Low inventory has thrown conventional thinking out the window. The laws of supply and demand dictate that getting your home on the market now is your best bet to get top dollar. In the past six months, sixty-seven properties have sold under 1 million dollars in Winchester, over 46% of them sold over asking price - and over 67% had an accepted offer that resulted in a sale in less than 30 days! If you have been considering selling your home, don’t hesitate. Now may be the best time in years to get top dollar for your home.

According to a recent report on, 2015 will be the biggest year in home sales in ten years. They state many reasons - from continuing low interest rates to pent up buyer demand, and the strength of the overall economy. Another factor indicated is that home owners’ equity has increased nearly 20% in Massachusetts and New Hampshire since 2011. This provides a lot of flexibility to home owners.

The Redfin Research Center in late December 2014 stated that the percentage of buyers who feel now is a good time to purchase a home, is up 6% from only this past summer. Furthermore, those buyers surveyed identified some of the top home characteristics they are looking for. The top two being-36% chose short commutes and close proximity to amenities (such as coffee shops), and 21.2% stated a highly rated school district as most crucial to their move. Winchester offers buyers both of these characteristics, therefore illustrating why Winchester is such a hot market.


My family has been in the real estate business since the 1940’s in the greater Boston area. I represent the third generation of real estate experts helping people buy and sell real estate. I am well-acquainted with Winchester. I grew up in town, and currently live here with my wife and our three children.

As in most professions, teamwork is essential in providing the best service, which is why you should choose Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group. We bring the highest level of professionalism and service to our clients. We have helped people buy and sell property in Winchester with a collected value over $47 Million in 2014.

Call or email me today to get your home in the “just sold” category for 2015. 

Nic Gatto