MA Market Data

Today's Homebuyer: Who, What and Where?

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From hyperlocal to big picture: Understanding our market

At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Shanahan Group, we love our local market. We spend lots of time looking at data on Winchester, Reading, Medford and our other surrounding communities. We believe that's where the really valuable information is and how we can track the real estate market real-time. There is value, however, in picking our heads up and looking at a broader picture of how our market compares to other areas of the country. Every year, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) prepares a report of Homebuyers and Homesellers. We dig through this report every year for a national picture of consumer trends.


Homebuyers: Who, what and where?

Below is a subset of that report, focused on Homebuyers by region of the U.S. This piece of the report is a really interesting look at buyers by region, breaking down buyers by age, type of property etc. Here are some of the things we found interesting:

  • New England's percentage of first time homebuyers is the highest at 45%, with the Mountain region being the lowest at 29%
  • The Mountain region saw the highest percentage of buyers purchasing multi-generational homes (17%), with New England and the North Central region having the lowest multi-generational home purchases (11%)
  • Single female homebuyers represent 19% of purchasers in the North Central region (highest) and only 13% in the Mountain region

Check out the full report here: Presentation: Profile of Home Buyers in Sub-Regions


The Most Attractive Buyer

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NAR MAP Q-1 Prices

The Real Estate landscape has changed dramatically over last year - sales are up and prices are up.Inventory remains low and as a result, many properties are being sold above asking price - and with multiple offers. The trick is to be the most attractive buyer while still operating within your budget and your comfort level. Let's talk about how:

Preapproval- In this market, the potential buyer who has not been preapproved will not not even make the list. Period. Make sure you're preapproved (not simply pre-qualified) by a reputable bank. When submitting your offer, time permitting, you should have a formal preapproval letter specific to this property, from your lender, stating your offer amount. Contingencies Love Letter Accommodating - Does the seller want a quick closing? Do they want to wait until the end of the school year before moving? Are they also trying to buy and need to get the property under agreement as soon as possible? The more you can work within their timelines, the easier you can make the process for them, the more likely it is your offer will make it to the top of the pile. Responsive Percentage Down Inspection (no nickel and dimeing)

Dear Seller: Love Letters and Our Market

At The Shanahan Group, we have been talking as a group and to our clients about the competitiveness of todays real estate market. Whether as buyer or seller, its critical that you have a team of trusted advisors (REALTOR, attorney, mortgage professional etc) to help navigate the process this spring. As we prepare for the busy spring season, we will be posting insights from our agents, industry professionals and more to shed some light on our market today. Enjoy this weeks post! If you are a buyer in the real estate market today, you know how competitive things can be. If you arent in the market, ask a buyer or your favorite real estate agent- they will tell you. Bottom line: Given our historically low inventory levels, its a very competitive time to be buying a house where a well priced home in good condition doesnt last long and usually sells in multiple offers. According to the Wall Street Journal, (Can I Buy Your House, Pretty Please? WSJ 1/10/2013), we are not alone in this kind of market. Silicon Valley, Washington DC, Chicago and Seattle are all experiencing a market where homes are selling very quickly and in multiple offers, given very tight inventory levels. According to the National Association of Realtors, there were just 2.14 million homes for sale at the end of 2012- thats a decrease of 22% and the lowest level in a decade. Locally, that number varies by community, but most have seen even more dramatic decreases in inventory since the previous year. So what is a buyer to do? To separate from the pack of buyers, we have seen a resurgence of a tactic that was popular in the boom years - the love letter. If you arent familiar with it, the love letter is just that, only its to a seller of a property that you would like to purchase. Also called the buyer pitch letter, it should connect the property to you as a buyer. The intent is to give the seller a sense for who you are, what you love most about the property, how you would live in the house etc. In the last year, we have had several clients write a letter in a multiple offer situation, most with great success. These are presented by your REALTOR with the Offer to Purchase and can be a handwritten note or a typed letter. It seems silly on the surface, but its a real way to distinguish yourself from other buyers and can be the key to winning the house. At the end of the day, sellers need to make a decision that it best for them and their situation, but when terms of an offer are similar, the love letter can personalize the process and distinguish one buyer from another. The video below is a recap of the article from the Wall Street Journal about Love Letters. Enjoy!

Price Reduced to $599,000 - Open House - 10/21 - 1-2:30pm at 124 Arlington Street, Winchester

Just reduced. There is no better value on Winchester's Westside than 124 Arlington Street. Check it out at tomorrow's open house from 1-2:30pm.

Best Value for Winchester's Westside

Charming Custom Westside Cape in desirable Ambrose School neighborhood. Four spacious bedrooms with two bedrooms on each floor or room for office, High ceilings and pretty paneled fireplace Living Room. Family Room off kitchen has wood stove and lovely views of private garden and patio. Potential to develop additional gardens with attractive tiered yard.Great floor plan and ease of living in this attractive home.

A Buyer's Market or A Seller's Market? Absorption Rate as a Measure

Shanahan Real Estate Group's June O'Keefe Burt offers her perspective on the market today and how to use absorption rate as an indicator of buyer and seller activity. Thanks, June!

We at Shanahan Real Estate Group wish to personally extend our best wishes to you for 2012. On the business side, we thought it would prove helpful, if you are considering buying or selling a home in 2012, to present some data that will clearly show the state of the market in our area. Real Estate is governed by the law of supply and demand; as such it is helpful to put a metric in place to judge the level of sales activity. The ABSORPTION RATE compares how many homes are for sale (the supply) to how many homes sold that month (the demand). We can then determine how many months it would take for all the homes currently listed for sale to sell at the current pace of sales. A balanced market is one that has anywhere between 2-4 months of inventory. Anything over 4 would favor buyers (more selection) and anything less than 2 would favor sellers(less options for the buyers). The numbers for the last six months in Winchester single family sales indicate an absorption rate of 3 months. Taken independently, this number is an extremely positive statistic for Winchester single family sales. From a sellers standpoint, this indicates that there is a qualified buyer pool for a well -priced home for sale. From a buyers standpoint, it indicates a balanced activity level and alleviates concerns of overpaying for a home in our current market. We anticipate as the spring market gets rolling, there will be increased levels of inventory, however, as anyone who has purchased a home in any spring market will tell you, there is an increased buyer pool as well. Winchester continues to outperform the market, even in these uncertain times. Happy 2012!

June O'Keefe Burt of Shanahan Real Estate Group

June O'Keefe Burt of Shanahan Real Estate Group

Real Estate at the End of the Year

While we are all running last minute errands, attending holiday parties and decorating our homes, the real estate market continues. It is a slower pace than earlier in the year, but there are serious home buyers and sellers in the market. Here are some interesting facts and insights from Shanahan Real Estate Group about the end of the year real estate market in Winchester. 1. Last year, between November 15th through December 31st, 29 homes went under agreement in Winchester. The median sales price for this time period was $819,000, about $50,000 above Winchesters typical median sales price. 2. Today in town, there are 81 homes on the market with a median price of $699,900. Last year at this time, it was a very similar picture with the same median price and 85 homes on the market. 3. While there may be fewer buyers in the market in these last few weeks, those buyers that are active are very serious and tend to be more motivated about making a purchase. 4. It is true that buyer demand is generally higher in the spring market, but with this demand comes more competition from other sellers also listing their homes at this time. If your home is on the market today, you are competing with fewer listings than in other times of the year, particularly the spring market. 5. We find that the holiday season is a time where many families begin thinking about their home and their future needs, while enjoying some downtime from work and school. Many of our friends and neighbors stop by the office, call or email after the New Year to talk about the market in town and what their plans might be. If your plans for the New Year might involve a move, let us know. We love what we do and are always happy to talk real estate! Look for our blog next week with insights into the early winter market. In the meantime, enjoy these festive holiday weeks with family and friends.

Condition, Condition, Condition!

Our blogs are usually a reflection of the conversations that our agents are having at the office, or topics at our weekly sales meetings. This post is particularly relevant, as it is a topic that we have been discussing at Shanahan Real Estate Group for the past few weeks. Thank you to Nan for this contribution:

Condition is critical

You know the old adage in real estate is location, location, location but a new component of the current real estate market is condition, condition, condition. Buyers are still purchasing homes in Winchester but seem to really hone in on those homes that have taken the time and expense to be updated and staged to look their very best. Buyers are afraid of overspending and then having to put more money in the house and uncertain of what then the house would then be worth. In the mind of todays buyer, the worst-case scenario is having to sell in the near future and then losing money because the market remains flat. That is the uncertainty of the market today.

The value of staging

9 Wildwood Street, Winchester MA

9 Wildwood Street in Winchester: Staged by Spectacular Spaces and under agreement in the first weekend

The value of a good realtor is in guiding sellers to understand what buyers are looking for and the importance of having the home look as good as possible from the very first day on the market. Buyers will get off the fence for a sparkling home but will probably wait for a price reduction on an overpriced property that needs updating. For sellers, a few extra dollars spent in repair, paint and upgrades will be worth it. At Shanahan Real Estate Group, we offer our sellers a complimentary staging service through our exclusive relationship with Spectacular Spaces. We understand what todays buyer is looking for and condition is critical. We are willing to make this commitment with sellers because we know that homes in great condition sell faster. You can read more about how we work with sellers on our website, including an overview of our relationship with Spectacular Spaces.

July Sales Data: Our Perspective

As part of Shanahan Real Estate Group's continuing effort to interpret recent market data for our local area, Felicity Tuttle provides the following insight: According to the Greater Boston Real Estate Board's online letter "On the Home Front," the news is that the sales of homes this June was lower than last year. This is not surprising when we remember that last year's federal tax credit boosted June 2010 sales over the June sales of the four previous years, thus our June 2011 numbers are still strong. It is also not surprising that, due to the absence of the tax credit, year-to-date sales of single family homes and condominiums is lower this year than last. Solidly good news from GBREB is that "pending sales of detached homes and condos rose for a second consecutive month over year-ago levels,an indication that the slowly improving job market in Gr. Boston, combined with stronger home price affordability and steady financial gains on Wall Street have provided an increasing number of home buyers with the confidence to move forward with a home purchase. In the detached single-family home market, pending sales jumped 19 percent over last June, making it the largest annual increase in monthly pending home sales since April 2010, when pending sales rose 29 percent." Again, this increase is particularly significant because the June sales last year "hit a five-year high as consumers rushed to beat the expiration of the federal home buyer tax credit." Better pending numbers this June in spite of the absence of any external incentive is a very positive sign. One factor GBREB noted as influencing this trend is the "improving job market in Gr. Boston," data which, if it continues, should bring more buyers "off the fence." I would suggest that several other factors have also been positive influences: the continued good interest rates by themselves have not been sufficiently helpful to stimulate the market, but the interest rates coupled with the fairly level and realistic pricing, (e.g. reduction in housing market volatility) together have provided more buyer impetus to put homes under agreement. Buyers are doing their own research, consulting with their agents for more data, and moving forward with caution but conviction. All of this is good news. To learn more about Felicity or her career in real estate, see her agent page.

Spring Market Data: Our Perspective

At Shanahan Real Estate Group, we feel it's important to not only present and analyze market data but to pair that with our experience to provide a comprehensive picture of our Winchester market. Below is our perspective on recent spring sales data. If you are interested in discussing the market in Winchester or one of our neighboring communities, contact one of our agents- we love what we do, and always happy to talk real estate! Winchester Spring Market- Our Perspective Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR) reported last week May sales were down from the same time last year, while median prices for single-family homes were up both year-over-year and month-to-month. If you read this data from any of our major news sources, things seem really bad in real estate and the economy in general. This data compares sales data from May 2011 to May 2010, at the peak of the artificial stimulus created by the Homebuyers Tax Credit. We believe that these comparisons are not a good measure of our real estate market today. In fact, the May 2009 sales data is much more in line with last months sales data (Source: MLSPIN Total Sold Market Statistics). So, how does the Winchester market compare on these same metrics? As we discussed in our blog recently, its been a conservative spring market, with buyers being more cautious about value and taking time to do their due diligence. There are many buyers looking in Winchester, and well-priced homes in good condition are selling- and sometimes in multiple offers. Our sales data reflects this, with relatively flat volume through May but slowly increasing home prices. The big story is something we have been discussing in our office and with our clients- we call the late spring market. In May and through June, we have experienced a flurry of buyer and seller activity. This is confirmed in Junes sold data, both in terms of number of homes sold and median sale prices.

Source: MLSPIN Total Homes Sold

The Bottom Line

Our Winchester market is stable and it continues to stabilize from the turbulence of recent years, both in the number of homes sold and their selling prices. Junes sold data shows a fundamental strength in the market, with many willing and able buyers looking for a well-priced home in good condition in our town. While we dont anticipate any wild upswings in sales volume, we do think that our Winchester market is stable and the coming months will continue in our conservative but active pattern of sales.



"So, how's the market in Winchester?"

So, hows the market?

Shanahan Real Estate Group- Sale Pending Sign

Another Property Under Agreement with Shanahan Real Estate Group

We get asked this question a lot, whether on a listing appointment, showing a house to buyers or even at the supermarket. We thought we would use this forum to answer this question, as well as others we hear from buyers, sellers and friends in the course of our day at Shanahan Real Estate Group. The answer to this question is not that simple and has been changing over the course of the year so far. Springtime is usually a very busy period for the real estate market, with lots of new listings and an equal number of eager buyers. This year, we have had a surprisingly low inventory of homes for sale in Winchester. You may have seen the article in The Winchester Star recently, titled Sellers Wanted. There are buyers who have been looking in town for a long time, and are just waiting for the right house. While our data shows continued activity across most price ranges, homes that are priced right and are in great condition are the ones that sell the fastest. When a buyer finds a home, they are hesitant, waiting to make sure that we have really hit bottom, as far as prices are concerned. As optimistic Realtors, we believe that we have seen the bottom of the market in Winchester and, while no one expects any dramatic increases in value, home prices remain steady. Our community has been fortunate to have weathered the recent economic times with property values holding steady, with single digit percentage changes in value from years past.

Looking forward

We expect to see our conservative real estate market continue, with reasonably priced homes that are in good condition selling quickly. Gone are the days where a buyer walks into a home and exclaims I love this house! Lets make an offer!. Buyers are much more cautious and educated in the local market, reviewing sales data with their agents and touring the home several times, before finalizing their decision. We encourage both buyers and sellers to have this level of education and comfort with the local real estate market. Our agents are educated on a continuing basis about OUR market- Winchester and our neighboring communities. While we are bombarded with real estate headlines and trends (often negative) , its important to remember the old saying: all real estate is local. The national real estate market is very different from that in Boston and Winchester is a totally different story altogether. Our agents know the market HERE and we are always happy to talk about it.

So, hows the market? Ask one of us- we know.