So You Want to Buy a Home In Boston? Here are some hot tips from one of Centre Realty Group’s top residential real estate experts. Katherine Meisenheimer, Broker Associate, specializes in finding the ideal home for each of her buyers. Recently, I sat down with Katherine and asked her what four things buyers should be sure to do when buying their first home in Boston.
Choose your Real Estate agent wisely
Work with a good buyer’s agent who frequently works with first time buyers and who understands the needs, questions, and concerns of someone who is going through the process for the first time. The agent will help you navigate through the choppy waters and guide you through the entire home buying process. Your agent is the one person who is with you from the beginning, when you first start looking at homes, to the end, when you get your keys. A good agent will troubleshoot along the way and keep the whole process moving forward.
You also want to work with a real estate agent who knows the market where you are looking to buy a home. An agent familiar with the market is best positioned to help you craft a good offer for the home you want to buy. There is nothing in this world that can replace the knowledgeable agent.
Go to a mortgage company that just focuses on mortgages. Have them look at your documentation up front. It may take more time initially, but it will put you in a better position for your search. “Make sure you are comfortable with the pre-approval amount and what that means in terms of a monthly payment,” Katherine recommends. That way you will be able to determine what price and payment you are comfortable with instead of looking at homes in the wrong price range. Also, when it comes time to make an offer, having a solid pre-approval where the lender has already checked your documentation puts you in a stronger negotiating position. The seller will know that you’re a well qualified buyer who is likely to be able to close on time.
Understand what type of home you want
Many first time buyers assume that they should start with a condo or think that may be all they can afford. However, it is important to understand the pros and cons of different types of properties. Think about what situation you would be happiest living in. “It is a tradeoff between responsibility and control,” Katherine says. With a condominium, you share control, responsibility, and the costs of owning a home. If you own a single family home, you have sole control of the property, but you also have sole responsibility for paying the bills and managing repairs. In a multi-family, you not only have all the control and responsibility for your home, but also for your tenants’ homes. You have the benefit of income from the rental units, but with the additional responsibilities of being a landlord.
There is a great deal of competition for homes in Boston. Often there is more than one offer. If that’s the case, the seller may choose to negotiate with just the person who made the top offer, or may go back to the top two or three offers and ask for everyone’s “highest and best” offers. If you think it may be competitive, be careful not to nickel and dime yourself out of contention—make a strong first offer that you think could win, or that will at least get you into the second round of negotiations. At the same time, work with your agent to understand your walk-away point so that in the heat of the moment you don’t overbid. As Katherine says, “If you’d be happy to buy the property at a certain price, make that offer. Don’t find out later what someone else paid and end up kicking yourself for not buying it at that price. Make your best offer and if it works out, great. If not, you won’t have any regrets because it wasn’t worth more to you, and you didn’t overpay.”
You can contact Katherine Meisenheimer, Broker Associate at Katherine@CentreRealtyGroup.com
If you would like further information, you can contact me at Emily@CentreRealtyGroup.com or 617-233-5043. Are there other Boston area real estate topics you would like me blog about? Please let me know.
Emily K. Beal –Director, Business Development and Customer Experience
CRG – Centre Realty Group – Newton, Brighton, Watertown, West Roxbury