Check out he newest episode of RERB with guests: Debi Benoit from Benoit Mizner Simon & Co., Lon Norton from Realty Executives, Tony Mallozzi from Anthony Joseph Real Estate
(Guest Debi Benoit)
Rick: What’s your secret? How are you the number one and what are you doing for the clients in those towns that are just making it all happen?
Debi: I think top agents they really have to be in it 24/7 in our industry. You know, you probably get the calls. And basically you have to answer your phone, have the knowledge, be out there, have the intel for your clients and really be in it to win it.
Ali: You know, there are some people think that they can service pretty much any town, any place, anywhere and you go against that trend. You carved a very special niche for yourself in Wellesley. What’s the value of going to someone like yourself who’s an expert in that town as opposed to someone in Boston who believes they can learn about Wellesley?
Debi: The Boston broker coming up and we do have some and I have a very deep reach into the brokerage community in Boston to the Metrowest. They just don’t have the intel. They’re not gonna know why people are selling or who’s more motivated to sell versus what account sold next door or down the street and they just aren’t gonna have that intel coming up from Boston. They’re gonna call me to get that intel.
Ali: And that intel is worth its weight in gold.
Debi: It’s money in the buyer’s pocket.
Ali: So we talked about the sales are less than year over year. But, that intel is the game-changer for someone to be able to get that property or not.
Rick: Well we went on a broker owner is one of the top listing agents in the area. As people know, we talk about that all the time, it’s a process to get your house ready for the market. So if buyers are looking to work with the buyer agent you really wanna align yourself with who is listing all the property because they have a heads up with what’s coming to the market. So if you’re looking for a 4 bedroom, 3 bath on a quiet cul-de-sac at this price point, there’s a good chance you might know something coming up prior to hitting the market. Is that fair to say?
Debi: Absolutely, usually I’m called in and we do have that knowledge ahead of time that this may be coming on. Whether you’re listing it or not they could be listing with their cousin Susie so they want a second opinion and I’m often the one to get the call.
Ali: How realistic are seller’s expectations in today’s market and are you always fighting that?
Debi: Well our area has actually gathered some inventory over the last few months. The first part of the year we had a lack of inventory, multiple offers and things were steam rolling. Then about two months ago, things started to slow down. We started gathering inventory, even though we sold 10 houses 10 more houses came back on. So right now it’s an awesome opportunity for a buyer to buy.
(Guest Lon Norton)
Ali: I think the reason Natick is so hot is because it does appeal to a much broader spectrum of buyers. Don’t you agree?
Lon: Correct, you know even in that Natick Village and the green over there you can get properties for under 300 thousand. And my wife works at liberty mutual she takes the commuter rail every day the express train from West Natick to Back Bay is 25 minutes so you have a lot people who are settling there and buying condos and It’s hard to get in anywhere for under 300 thousand.
Rick: What I wanna say is as far as the Natick market, because you’ve got that Natick Mall and you’ve got that commercial influence, you’ve got real estate taxes on the lower end of the spectrum and the schools that are brand new. Everyone is throwing around iPads so they have technology as well. I think it’s a great alternative to get some luxury and have some beautiful streets. Just going down my roads to get home.
Ali: I’ve had many discussions with my wife. We live in Hopkinton, my office is in Boston that I work out of and we always talk about how convenient Natick is because it sits in the middle. Much like western and Wellesley in those towns as well, it sits in the middle but it’s very accessible. I mean look at the Mass Pike and how easily you can get in and out.
Lon: I can get anywhere in a half hour. I made it here today in half an hour. You got Route 9, you got 27, 135, Mass Pike, name a store we got it. We got Lowe’s, Home Depot, a mall.
Ali: That accessibility and that diversity of inventory is obviously very appealing to first time home buyers. What are some of the challenges and unique approaches you have dealing with first time home buyers?
Lon: A lot of first time home buyers out there now have been looking for over a year maybe two. Frustrated they lost out on multiple offers. I myself lost out on a property. Offered 12 and a half percent over list and still didn’t get it. The person waived the mortgage contingency. I like to play fast and loose but not with my own money. So I think the one thing I’ve been offering is an alternative, as much as I love Natick it’s tough to get em in here. I wanna sell them a property so good alternatives have been Holliston or Hopkinton. They come out that way, I just sold property in Maynard. You put that house in Natick it’s 700 thousand dollars and they got it for under 5.
Ali: So you’re suggesting that there are other alternative towns for someone who may be a first time home buyer who is frustrated and outbid by a pool of buyers that there are other towns available to them.
Lon: That’s correct, there’s Framingham. There’s a lot of great opportunity in Framingham.
Ali: One of the things you mentioned was this particular example that you were sharing 12.5% over ask and the buyer was contemplating waiving their mortgage contingency. Fast and loose but not with your own money. Do you think that’s a trend in regards to buyers? Is it advisable and are there stratgeies to have the mortgage contingency but have the offer looked upon by a seller or a listing agent as cash? And the reason I ask this is I think an effective strategy that is being employed and you and I have talked about this, is picking up the phone and calling the listing agent or in fact dealing with someone like Rick Scherer because first of all you can tighten the timeline from when the purchase and sales agreement has to be signed and your commitment date.
(Guest Tony Mallozzi)
Ali: What are the trends? I mean bedroom community automatically I hear bedroom community and it may sound offensive I automatically think it’s boring. SO what do they have for amenities? What’s available? I don’t want the listener to think of a bedroom community that they don’t have options for their restaurants and a lot of stuff happening, right?
Tony: Yeah and I say that because that’s what you know stigma is but it has changed and Rick and I were talking before the show about Wegman’s grocery store in Northborough Mass. I know people were going “Wegman’s is opening” and Rick’s wife was around from the Attic area in New York and she was excited. Why I say that is just that little grocery store well hadn’t had one for 15 years and now it brings in other commercial industries like TJ Maxx, BJs, etcetera and it’s turned into a hub. At 5 o’clock people don’t just go home you see them out and about it’s great.
Rick: I took my son there, we spent 4 hours in that complex. We hit up stabrucks, went to Wegman’s for lunch, went to BJs and got a lot of, we went to look at golf stuff over at GolfSmith. What a great spot. One of the other neighborhoods and towns you specialize in is Shrewsbury. Shrewsbury is a great community; I think there’s a lot there. We talked about this, there’s a lot there in terms of school systems that are phenomenal. Is there value there?
Tony: Yes my wife developed a house in Shrewsbury and it was a big step for me because I grew up in Northborough, the neighboring town. We were always competing against Shrewsbury. But, that being said, if we get to numbers, the taxes are 13 dollars per thousand where Westborough, Hopkinton are 17 dollars per thousand. And what I love, it’s not til you become a tax payer and the time you realize they have this thing called Cellco, Shrewsbury electric cable and cable rates 30% less. Electrical is about 20% less all these little things because they all add up. We have a lot of homes in town which helps lower the tax rate, a brand new library. We had an override last year and it was minimal from a tax basis standpoint we have whole foods coming in in the next 2 years, with a Starbucks. Burton’s grill and it’s really nice and a nice place to live.
Ali: Tony, what are the trends? When we were talking to Debi earlier, we were talking about the fact that the Naticks of the world have a diverse offering of inventory, Wellesley not so much they only have influence with single-family homes but peppered with condo complexes but not as much and there’s a need there. What about Shrewsbury, is there a diverse offering of inventory?
Tony: Yes there is. There is primarily single-family four two and a half bath colonial at 5-6 hundred thousand. There are some town homes, what I am seeing right now with inventory we are in a shortage like everyone else. I do feel you could begin the show Ali down 6% overall in sales and I think we peaked last year. I do feel strength throughout the year coming. But buyers will have a chance after the 4th to take advantage where we typically see a slowdown on the 4th, I feel it’s gonna flood the market a little bit.