Burlington Real Estate Negotiations Needn’t be a Puzzler

Game theory only sounds like it has something to do with how to win in some weekend sports outing or family board game. It’s a seriously studied logical field that mathematicians delve into. Interestingly, when you study how to develop successful negotiation tactics—Burlington real estate negotiations included—you can look at them via game theory.

There is a problem, though. The further you get into the subject, the more it tends to become more and more abstract. Unless you are someone who looks forward to curling up by a roaring fire with a favorite math textbook, you won’t get very far into game theory before your eyes will begin to glaze over.

In real life, Burlington real estate negotiations are anything but academic exercises, so I can’t recommend spending hours studying “The Prisoner’s Dilemma” or any of the other highly studied game theory games. But even if you’ve been able to stay tuned for only a few of the most rudimentary basics, it seems that in order to develop a winning game plan in any negotiation, there has to be one pre-condition (in game theory, it’s called an assumption).

The assumption that’s necessary for developing a successful negotiation strategy is that all the parties must be rational. They have to be trying to make decisions (game moves) that are intended to benefit themselves. In Burlington real estate negotiations, that usually consists of paying or receiving the least or most money in the most favorable timeframe.

So the takeaway from game theory’s application to Burlington  real estate negotiations is both simple and useful in the real world:

First, remain rational yourself. In the course of negotiations, if your thoughtful proposal isn’t accepted, don’t get mad—even if it’s maddening. Stay cool; acknowledge that you’ve considered the response, and develop the best counter that is in your interest. I’ll help!

Second, as much as possible, foster rationality in the other party. Even if they fly off the handle for what seems to be no reason, assume there IS a reason—but it may not be one that’s rational or even directly connected to the bargain under discussion. It can even be due to misconstrued communication. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to forget that emotions can block self-interest—but even fiery emotions can be quelled when met with calm and reason.

One of the great advantages to having me as your Realtor is the experience I bring to the Burlington real estate negotiations that complete every sale. There are many steps that precede that “endgame” moment—call me whenever you’re ready to discuss getting started!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

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New Burlington Homes Win in an Auto Value Comparison

Ask a typical Burlington consumer to name the two most important purchases people make, and you’ll almost always hear “new house” and “new car.” They’re often lumped together, but they shouldn’t be. They aren’t all that similar.

The rationale for buying a new car is clear: automotive technology advances nearly every model year, improving fuel economy and safety. Add in that intoxicating new car smell, and the preference is all but automatic. Used cars may be economical, but as for the thrill factor: nyah!

Similarly, when the question is put to a cross-section of typical Americans, new homes get the nod over existing ones. The percentage of those who “strongly” or “somewhat” prefer buying a newly built home weighs in at 41%. That’s a 2-to-1 margin over those who say they favor existing homes.

With such pronounced popularity, you might think it means that Burlington new homes should sell twice as rapidly as those previously owned—but that’s not the case. It isn’t just that there’s no intoxicating new house smell. It’s all about the cost factor.

The preference numbers come from the latest survey run by Trulia, which also reported the major reasons given. “Modern features” were cited, along with the “ability to customize the home.” The first reason is perhaps more sensible than the second since the survey’s definition of “new home” included newly-built homes that were fully completed. An existing property can usually be customized (remodeled) as readily as a finished new home.

In any case, the popular leaning toward new homes is tempered in practice when it comes to dollars and cents. Among those who strongly prefer a new home, only 46% are willing to pay for the privilege when it comes to actually writing the check. Since the national average is for new homes to be priced at a 20% premium over existing properties with similar features, that original “strong” preference often takes a backseat to a slightly stronger one—working within the family budget.

Fortunately for those who do become Burlington new home owners, the long-term outcome differs from what new car buyers experience. Whereas the joy of driving a new model automobile off the dealer’s lot is tempered by an instantaneous drop in its resale value, nothing similar happens when you take ownership of a new Burlington home. The steady rise in housing values over the past five years is pretty solid evidence of that!

Some terrific Burlington new and existing homes are out there awaiting new owners. Give me a call whenever you’d like to take a look!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

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Billerica Listing Photos Set the Stage for the Sale

Some key preparations for the marketing of any Billerica home actually start well before the first showing or open house: they take place in the hours before the Billerica listing photos are taken. Those Billerica listing photos will become the definitive beauty shots—the equivalent of the glamorous depictions that grace product packaging.

Manufacturers know very well the import of how their product looks on the carton, jar or bag. It’s why top commercial photographers rely on “product stylists” (they’re the experts who sort through 100 bags of potato chips to come up with the two or three that will photograph perfectly).

Billerica listing photos no longer have anything to do with 20th-century cameras or film. But it’s not just the move to digital that’s responsible for creating a higher quality Billerica listing photos. To guarantee you maximize the quality of your own Billerica home’s listing photos, it remains a team effort…and you’re on the team. Four elements are called for:

  1. Equipment. Even now, the technology behind photo equipment is advancing rapidly. What used to require compliments of hot lamps, stands, and even a reflector or two can now be accomplished with a single travel case of lightweight equipment. Still vital: the “eye” of the knowledgeable pro behind the lens.
  2. Patience. For the critical exterior shot, Mother Nature controls most of the timing. The photographers creating the best Billerica listing photos don’t just take weather into account—they factor in the house’s orientation and the time of day that will show it to its best advantage, and plan accordingly.
  3. Homeowner prep. The NAR®’s real estate photo tutorial emphasizes how important homeowners can be on the big day because “little things can make—or break—listing photos.” Examples are paying special attention to blinds, bedspreads and shower curtains (making sure they are smooth)—as well as removing any and all unnecessary knick-knacks.
  4. The digital finale. It used to be that fine photo correcting was a time-consuming art practiced mainly in the production studios of national publications. That’s no longer the case. Digital images can be quickly refined via ubiquitous photo processing software that makes retouching and image enhancing part of the professional’s everyday bag of tricks.

Starting out with dynamic listing photos is important—as are the many steps to follow. When it’s your time to list, I hope you’ll allow me to demonstrate the personal care that makes selling your Billerica home a low-stress experience!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

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Freddie Mac Minces No Words: “Another 2017 Low”

A couple of weeks back, the ultimate authority on Bedford mortgage rates hadn’t minced words. That was Freddie Mac, whose opinion about mortgage rates constitutes the final say in the matter. Freddie isn’t modest about its preeminence (Freddie’s trademarked corporate slogan is “We make home possible”). Together with sibling Fannie Mae, the quasi-governmental entities stand behind 60% of U.S. mortgages.

Each week their PMMS survey collects data snapshots from thrifts, credit unions, banks, and mortgage lenders to gauge of the direction of the home loan market. Future Bedford home hunters and the homeowners whose properties are found in the current listings (or soon will be) are constantly affected by those ups and downs. For one thing, they dictate the “monthly payment” calculations you find in the detailed breakdown featured most online listings—including those on my site.

Naturally, the rate averages vary from lender to lender and state to state—but it’s the direction in which mortgage rates are headed that can be a spur for buyers. Either direction can cause activity. When rates rise quickly, buyers can be incented to lock in rates before they get out of hand. When they fall, that inducement disappears—although a shrinking monthly payment number does create an increasingly affordable scenario. Low rates create an encouraging “price is up, but cost is down” situation.

The week before last, Freddie’s headline had been an unequivocal piece of favorable news for Bedford buyers and sellers:

30-Year Mortgage Rate Hits Another 2017 Low.”

But last week’s follow-up failed to live up to what was expected (a slight rebound). Freddie’s headline on Thursday was neither fish nor fowl, up nor down. It was the third possibility, where mortgage rates don’t go anywhere: they just sit there, deadpan as a professional poker player, revealing nothing:

Mortgage Rates Hold at 2017 Low.

The U.S. weekly average was still 3.78%, tying the low for the year. For Bedford  buyers who may have missed out on locking in the previous week’s home loan bargain rates, the reprieve was welcome news. Whether the expected rebound was on the way remained to be seen.

Current Bedford mortgage rates are key when it comes to buying and selling area homes­­—and with rates holding at historic lows, it creates an undeniably auspicious market opportunity. Call me!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty Partners     Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

 

 

Thoughts as Billerica’s Summertime Ends…

Friday is the official last day of Billerica’s 2017 summer, but for most of us, the season has been feeling a lot more like fall ever since Labor Day. It isn’t the weather so much as the psychological factor. Things like the passing of that last summertime three-day weekend and watching Billerica’s seasonal businesses post hour change signs. As the school busses appear every morning, you also don’t have to have kids in school to register what all the activity signals: Billerica’s summer is over.

Pinterest, the internet’s foremost collecting place for everyone’s pictures of everything has scores of pages of photos and drawings with Last Days of Summer themes. Some of them do extract a sigh or two. It may have been decades since you last experienced a cookout with friends as the summer sun sets, or watched a little one discovering that the cold tidewater will get your toes if you don’t back away in time—but the thought that the chance to revisit such moments has slipped away till next year is a sigh-producer for most.

The Pinterest collections had lots of swimming pool and beach pictures (including many dogs-in-swimming-pools, for some reason), as well as barbecue grills and drinks with limes in them. They did a good job of making you wish Billerica’s summer could last just a little bit longer…

On the bright side, since they were also heavy with ice cream and popsicle imagery, it prompted the realization that some Billerica summer attractions won’t be disappearing at all! There’s no law that says Billerica’s autumn won’t include an ice cream cone or two. Besides, it’s a fact that the summertime pastime of racing to get to the bottom of the cone before it melts all over the place is easier to win as the weather gets colder. Another plus is how, before long, autumnal treats like pumpkin-flavored ice cream are going to show up again.

With Billerica’s official Last Day of Summer coming on Friday, those whose favorite season arrives with the fall have only the weekend before it’s here. It will be many months before fall fanciers will have to resort to Pinterest to relive the Last Days of Autumn collections. They will undoubtedly find lots of pictures of high school football games, trees ablaze with orange-gold color, turkeys—but let’s not jump the gun; all that is yet to come!

In the meantime, season in and season out, call me whenever Billerica real estate matters need to be attended to!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty Partners     Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

 

Equifax Hack Could Affect Burlington Mortgage Applicants-

When news of the Equifax hack first broke, the credit ratings giant scrambled to minimize fallout from this massive personal information breach. After an initial embarrassing misstep (they tried to have affected consumers sign off on Equifax’s liability), the company moved to ameliorate the hack by offering free ID protection to consumers.

Burlington homeowners and potential home buyers had reason to do more than shake their heads at yet another electronic pratfall. In one way or another, most Burlington real estate transactions involve creditworthiness appraisals that are managed by the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax is one). That means that among the 143 million consumers it admits could be “potentially impacted” are certainly a lot of current and future Burlington home buyers. The stolen information includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses—and for hundreds of thousands, credit card numbers. Even some Massachusetts driver license data figured in the Equifax hack.

Given the obvious potential for identity theft, the company’s Chairman went online to make an unprecedented offer: his firm will furnish a comprehensive package of credit file monitoring and identity theft protection to everyone. Literally.

To every consumer in the United States. For a year. For free.

With few exceptions, it was left to us to take the initiative to take them up on the offer. That factor might shrink the size of the undertaking, but even so, delivering on this scale was unlikely to be accomplished without a few hitches.

Hitch #1: when this many millions of people try to check in on any site, no system can handle it all at once. So contacting this Equifax Trusted ID Premier link results in varying lengths of delay before enrollment can be confirmed.

Hitch #2: because it is now obvious that sophisticated thieves are active in the credit reporting industry, it will be doubly necessary for Equifax to make certain that you are who you say you are. That makes multiple email confirmation back-and-forths unavoidable­­.

It’s a cinch that Burlington residents who decide to sign up for the free protection should also be extra vigilant in monitoring their financial transactions. An additional step is also possible: you can contact any one of the three credit agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian) to request that they place a 90-day “fraud alert” on your file. It’s free, and whichever agency you contact is required to notify the other two. Fraud alerts obligate any lender to contact you before they issue credit in your name. You can renew the alert as many times as you wish—and cancel at any point.

Your credit score is a vital ingredient when it’s time to look for favorable home loan offers, so even before the Equifax hack, it’s always been well worth protecting. Give me a call when questions about this or other Burlington real estate matters come up: I’ll be minding the phone!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

Laer Realty Partners    Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

4 Bedford Home Buying Steps (with Some Adjustments)

What a simpler world it would be if Bedford home buying could be reduced to anything like a simple 4-Step process. Even better if those were four easy steps. Actually, without actually coming out and saying so, that’s the tantalizing prospect hinted at on radio financial guru Dave Ramsey’s web site’s “Home Buying Process Made Easy.

Ramsey is the likable media expert in household budgeting and financial planning. A good deal of his guidance could be summed up in just 2 steps:

1) get out of debt (except for mortgage debt) as soon as humanly possible; then,

2) stay out.

Since that’s not bad advice, the promise of home buying in 4 steps seems almost reasonable. After all, his millions of listeners have undoubtedly benefitted greatly through the years (once they’ve figured out a way to act on the advice).

And in fact, his 4 easy home buying steps are actually not far off-target—although I think they’re out of order:

  1. Put your finances in order before home buying; IOW, know what you can afford.
  2. Do the cash flow Ramsey thinks your Bedford home’s monthly mortgage payments should be no more than a quarter of your net income.
  3. Get a home loan. Make this a 15-year fixed rate mortgage to minimize total interest paid.
  4. Find a good real estate agent to “help make sure you don’t pay too much” and deal with any “unexpected home buying hurdles.”

Realistically, Bedford home buying involves a bit more involvement than that. Also, Step 4 should actually come after Step 2, and Step 3 (getting a mortgage) should come after that—and after you and your good real estate agent have zeroed in on your target Bedford  home.

One more practical alteration: the 15-year mortgage structure automatically results in a higher monthly payment that, when combined with a 25% of net income budget cap, could yield an unrealistically limited budget target. Being financially conservative also means being realistic. A growing family, for instance, might find that they have wasted money if they have to move to a larger home after only a few years.

That’s where your good real estate agent can save the day. Call me at any step in the process: I’ll be your sounding board on today’s practical short and long term Bedford home buying trade-offs!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty Partners       Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

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