Thursday, April 26, 2018

Do it yourself or not- why a FSBO may not be the best option when selling

In today's do it yourself world we often learn the hard way that sometimes it may be easier to pay someone.  There is an article in today's NYT Smarter Living section that suggests the importance of knowing one's strengths and weaknesses.  Click here.  Let's face it we can't be a jack of all trades in everything.

How often do you try to fix something minor at your house only to make it worse.  My husband recently tried this with a sink faucet and accidentally broke the inner faucet valve and now we need to replace the entire fixture.  Sadly this model has been discontinued and we now need to replace both sides.  Lesson learned, it cost more in the long run to do try to save a few bucks.  If you buy do-it-yourself furniture for one of your kids who is moving to an apartment out of state you can spend money to travel to help build the furniture (hotel $300 night, meals $150 plus,  transportation $100) or you may be able to hire someone from Task Rabbit to build it for under $75.  Your choice!!

Although both of these experiences were not significant in monetary value they highlight the overlooked aspect of how a well thought out plan can go wrong.  Always think time and money when factoring in a business transaction.  I always ask myself to think about the opportunity cost if I go one way when another approach may be more effective, produce a higher return and save me time in the long run.

As a realtor I am quite sensitive to this when I see potential sellers who want to sell on their own.  As a FSBO (for sale by owner)  a seller is taking all the risk of selling a property into their own hands.  Statistics show that in the long run a seller will yield a higher sale price by using a realtor and will more than cover the commission.  Further selling a property is a legal transaction and a seller must fully understand his or her legal obligations of disclosure as mandated by local regulations and Massachusetts State law prior to entering a contract with a potential buyer.  These regulations are constantly being updated and a realtor's job is to know these regulations.

By selling privately the seller risks the level of market exposure of MLS to bring the maximum number of buyers in the common market.  An example of this is highlighted here.  He/she will spend a lot of time selling and may not be as savvy in asking the best price.  An independent agents sole job is to represent the seller and do everything possible to help the seller best position the property.

Selling a house on your own is great if it sells quickly but if not this can become a challenge when you are the one showing it to potential buyers.   Can you separate your emotions from the business side of the process?  Do you want to tie up all your time to meet the buyers needs?  After an accepted offer there are times the buyer will need to visit the property for inspections, work estimates and other tasks up to the close.  There is a lot of hands on work that realtors do to make the transaction go smoothly to alleviate the time constraints on the seller.   Remember time and money are key.

Next time you get the urge to do something on your own think out the process and ask yourself if it will really save time and money in the long run.  Chances are you are better off hiring a professional to do the job at hand using their hard learned expertise.  You will be happier and less stressed. (Incidentally inventories are at an all time low and this is a great time to sell while interest rates are still reasonable.)

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She works in both the metro-West Boston area and the lower Cape.  She loves working with first time buyers, sellers who may be downsizing and anyone else who is an enthusiastic client.  Check out her website

Monday, April 16, 2018

Its Moving Time, Tips on Hiring a Mover- updated

Although this blog originated over a year ago many of the points are still very useful.  In today's Boston Globe there was a great blogpost on how to hire movers that I thought I would share this as an update.  

Enjoy and comments welcome.
It’s time to get down to business and start packing your things.  In a recent Coldwell Banker Blue Blogpost there was a discussion on how to pack the 10 important items that may need special attention.  Packing is a huge job and cannot be underestimated.  

The first step should be to take a visual inventory of everything you will be packing.  Do you have furniture that needs special handling?  Many fragile items?  Can you pack your clothing or do you need wardrobes to move the hanging items.  Make a list of each item by major category.  Be sure you know ahead of time the destiny of each item you will be moving in its new home.  

Next determine when you plan to move.  According to the American Moving and Storage Association the end of the month and summertime are the busiest times for moving companies, so you’ll need to book at the very least six weeks in advance. If possible try to time your move between October and April, during which time AMSA says many companies offer discounts.

Next you will need to decide if you want to do the actual packing yourself and only use a moving company for the actual moving, or if you want to trust them to do the packing for you. Again if you pack things yourself you will not be able to make an insurance claim for any damages.  A reputable mover will have insurance coverage and be fully bonded.  Below is a checklist that will help you interview moving companies to find the best fit for you and your treasures.

Once you know what your parameters are it is time to research movers who will fit your needs.  You can ask your realtor for a reference as often they have movers they refer.  Sometimes they will also offer a referral discount.  You can also get a reference from a friend who has moved recently.   Take the time to do research on the various companies that service your area.  If you have a houseful of things you will most likely need a full service moving company.  If you are moving a few items you may be able to be an add-on to a larger move.  The problem with this however can be timing as you will most likely be added on to the moving truck after the larger move is fully loaded.  You may opt to move yourself with a UHaul but remember your items will not be insured for damage.

Here are some important questions to consider: 

*Licensing and bonding. Always be sure the moving company is fully accredited.  Usually they will offer a pamphlet issued by The Interstate Commerce Commission  called “Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move.” You can call your local ICC office for a copy if you’re moving out of state.

*Local moving costs. Get an estimate of the moving costs.  Ask for specifics based on the number of hours (usually this includes the travel time to and from their base destination) as well as by the number of movers hired.  Sometimes there is a minimum time requirement of 4 hours. 

*Long-distance costs. These are calculated on the total weight of your shipment and the distance traveled.

*Packing. These costs are not included in a basic moving bid. Ask for the price up front to avoid any confusion. Ask for specifics if you have them pack for you including time and materials.  Once we have the mover pack a lamp for us and they charged a fortune to put the lamp shade in an individual box.  (note: If you opt to have the company do the packing, they will inventory your stuff and describe any existing damage. Ask for a copy of the inventory form.)

*Payment. Most movers only accept money orders or certified checks. Find out in advance, because movers will not unload until you pay them. Tipping the driver is optional.

*Reputation. You may want to get references from prior customers and check their ratings with the local Better Business Bureau or other service organizations in your area.  You can also find out if the company is a member of the American Movers Conference (, which requires members to meet certain standards.

Get a written estimate and an understanding of any incremental charges.  You want to fully understand what your obligation will be when you hire the mover. 

Once you’ve hired a mover,  this is only the beginning of your move.  

Make yourself a checklist of things to do every week for the weeks prior to the move. Stay as organized as possible.

Put everyone in your family to work.  Start going room by room and figuring out what you really need at your new place and which items you may pack away and never use.  Maybe you can give some of these items away. This is a great time to purge.   When we moved I packed boxes of my kids toys and left them in the basement for months.  When I realized they weren't missed I gave many away!

Before you move to your new location you may want to have a floorplan and figure out where you want to place each piece of furniture.  It is a lot easier and less timely if you have all of this thought out ahead of time.  Also it is helpful to label each box with its destination.  

Confirm the arrangements with the moving company a couple of days before your move and ask for the names of the movers. On moving day greet the movers and be friendly to them.  Be sure to offer them water or coffee.  I have always found that if you are kind to them they will respect you and your things.  

Addendum:  If you are planning an out of state move you may want to read this article about not getting scammed from the New York Times.  It is always important to do your DUE DILIGENCE before hiring a contractor.

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham and also works from a satellite office on the lower Cape during the warmer months.  She loves working with buyers and sellers on both sides of the Bourne Bridge.  If you need any help buying, selling or investing in real estate please check out her website