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How has the Sharon real estate market performed over the past year? Contact me to learn about any other community.

The Town of Sharon has seen another year of appreciating home values, although less dramatic than the prior year. The number of real estate transactions has decreased significantly from calendar year 2013. Based on MLS data for single-family houses, here is a year-to-year comparison of houses sold in Sharon:

2013:

Houses sold: 247

Average days-on-market: 76

Average sales price: $521,750

Average selling price/list price ratio: 98%

2014:

Houses sold: 188

Average days-on-market: 62

Average sales price: $532,817

Average selling price/list price ratio: 98.7%

This chart indicates a stabilization of average selling price as well as a significant decrease in marketing time.

The following market data will give you a look at specific price ranges and market performance for houses sold in 2014:

Under $300k:   10  houses sold

$300-400k        44 houses sold

$400-500k        39 houses sold

$500-600k        33 houses sold

$600-700k        32 houses sold

$700-800k        19 houses sold

$800-900k         6 houses sold 

$900-1 mil         2 houses sold

Over $1mil        3houses sold

Almost every price range shows a decrease in # of houses sold in 2014 as compared to calendar year 2013.

So, what’s happening so far in 2015? The supply of houses available for sale in Sharon is very limited, as of 2/24/2015 there are only 26 houses listed for sale through  MLS database.

House inventory:

Under $300k    1

$300-400k       3

$400-500k       3

$500-600k       3

$600-700k       2

$700-800k       3

$800-900k       5

$900- 1 mil      4

Over $1 mil     2

This in part due to the harsh weather and historic snowfall and should result in more listings as we approach the spring weather and spring real estate market. The drop in mortgage interest rates has kept prospective buyers active in their search throughout the winter.

 

 

Is your property assessment accurate and correct?

 

Q. How can I find out if my property assessment is accurate ?

 

A.  Property values are established by the assessors office based on Mass Appraisal methods. This process analyzes properties grouped by similar market influences and characteristics rather than by performing individual appraisals on each property. Due to the large number of properties within a community, it is not financially or logistically possible to have individual appraisals for each property.

Property values are updated through the use of statistics based on annual market data, although current market assessed values are based on sales of properties within the community from the prior calendar year. For example, your current assessment would be based on property sales for calendar year 2013. This results in a lag in data and may not  reflect market trends for the current fiscal year.

Your property assessed value is based on features and amenities which are kept on a property record data card in the assessors office. This card will list the features such as style of house, condition, living area, basement finish, grade, and other features based on a property inspection, or building permits, or from historical data. You should check the accuracy of this data by requesting a copy of your property record from your assessors office to make sure that the data is accurate, as this record serves as the basis for your assessment.                                                                  

Town of Sharon real estate tax update

Sharon residents will be receiving their tax bills for FY2015 within a few weeks. I thought it would be helpful to learn what to expect and some of the reasons for changes in assessments and taxes. I met with Mark Mazur, the Administrative Assessor for Sharon, to answer some of these questions.

Q.   How have assessments changed from last year?

A.    In recognition of changes in the residential real estate market single family assessments were increased approximately 9.2% for FY2015.

 

Q.   What is the basis for the change in assessments?

A.    We analyzed sales from calendar year 2013 and found that sales prices have gone up significantly when compared to those of the previous calendar year.  There were 233 arms length single family sales in calendar 2013.

 

Q.   What is the new tax rate for FY2015 and how does it compare to last year?

A.   The fiscal 2015 tax rate is $20.30 compared to last year’s rate of $20.55.  That is an decrease of $0.25.

 

Q.   Why would the tax rate decrease?

A.   The tax rate is calculated by dividing the town’s tax levy (the amount the town votes at Town Meeting to spend for the year) by the total taxable assessed value.  This year the tax rate decreased because the tax levy increased by less than the assessments increased.. 

 

Q.   What is the average single family assessment this year and how does it compare to last year?

A.   The average single family assessment is now $473,760 as compared to $433,791 from last year.  That is an increase of about 9.2%.  Remember that this is an average, some properties went up and some went down and by different percentages too.

 

Q.   What is the average single family tax bill for FY2015 and how has it changed from last year?

A.   The average single family tax bill for FY2015 is $9,617.33 compared to last year’s average of $8,914.41.  That represents a increase of about 7.9%.  Again, remember that this is an average with some properties having more or less of an increase and in some rare cases even a decrease.

 

Q.   What will be the total revenues collected for the Town for FY2015 and how does that compare to FY2014?

A.   The town sent out tax bills totaling $60,056,129.00 in local property taxes for FY2015.  For FY2014 the town sent out tax bills which totaled $56,048,096.71.  So, the total tax levy  went up this year by $4,008,032.29 or approximately 7.2%.

 

Q.   How and when are abatement and exemption applications filed?

A.   Abatements are filed when someone disagrees with the assessed value of their property.  Note that for this fiscal year the assessments are our estimates of property value as of 1/1/2014 and are based upon calendar year 2013 sales.  Abatements need to be in the Assessor’s Office by 5:00 P. M., on Monday, February 2nd, which is the same day and time that the tax bills are due to be paid.  Exemptions are filed by a variety of individual who fit certain guidelines such as disabled veterans, blind people, widows or widowers.  Exemption application forms and guidelines as well as abatement application forms are available on line at the Town website, www.townofsharon.net or in the Assessor’s Office.   For this fiscal year applications for exemption must be received in the Assessor’s Office by April 1, 2015.

The Assessors Office and Board of Assessors is always available to answer your questions. You can review your property information by logging on to www.townofsharon.org and click on online assessment info. Questions and Concerns can be delivered on-line or at the assessors office.

 

Home burglaries are on the rise in many communities!

Q. What can be done to reduce the possibility of home burglaries?

A.  There has been a recent increase of house and vehicle burglaries in the area. Not only should you be aware of the increased risk of this occurrence, but also take steps to reduce the possibility of a burglary at your house or in your neighborhood.

Burglaries can occur at any time, but the majority take place during daylight hours when the house (and an unlocked car in the driveway) is left unoccupied for work or school or even quick errands. Burglars may look for an unoccupied house with easy access through an open window or hidden area around the house, or may watch for vehicles leaving the driveway. Be a good neighbor and keep an eye out for unusual activity in your neighborhood, and report any suspicious activity or vehicles to the police.

The most basic prevention is to be sure to lock doors and windows when you leave your house. If you have an alarm system, use it! Place visible decals on glass doors and windows indicating an alarm system or crime watch system is in place. Use deadbolts and security bars on patio doors, and don’t leave spare keys outside the house. An outdoor light left on while you’re away all day could attract a burglars attention, so install a motion sensor or timer, for both indoor and outdoor lighting.

You should take an inventory of your jewelry and electronics with photos and serial numbers (to be kept in a safe deposit box) and keep valuables out of sight, not on your dresser, but hidden or locked in a safe. When you engrave items for identification, don’t use your social security number.

If you find that your house has been burglarized, call the police immediately from a safe location.

Are you planning to hire a contractor for home improvement projects?

 

Q. When considering home improvements, what should you look for when hiring a contractor?

A. Most homeowners will need to hire a contractor for various types of projects. Remodeling projects can improve your lifestyle and living space while adding significant value to your house.

An excellent source of finding a competent and trustworthy contractor is a recommendation from a friend who might have recently had similar work done. You should interview with 2 or 3 contractors to review the project and request an itemized estimate/bid which will give you better control over the process and costs. Itemized bids with a breakdown of materials, labor, permits and fixtures, and scope of work will provide an easier way to compare.  It is important to review a payment schedule so that the contractor completes the work to your satisfaction. Ask how change-orders will be handled. This process will also give you some insight regarding the contractor’s communication and organizational skills.

Your contractor should provide references. You can ask to visit a current jobsite as well as recently completed projects. A contractor should provide their place of business (office/home address, not a PO box), and length of time in business along with their local materials suppliers so that you can check on their reputation for creditworthiness. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints on file or google search the contractors for additional information.

Although it is tempting to select a contractor based on the lowest bid, be wary of a lowball bid. Look for an experienced and licensed contractor with proof of current insurance coverage for worker’s compensation and general liability. Depending on the size of the company, ask whether the contractor will be on the jobsite everyday. Whether you are spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a home improvement project, your diligent selection of the right contractor will go a long way to making your home improvement project more enjoyable and successful.

 

 

How has the Sharon real estate market performed over the past year? Contact me to learn about any other community.

A. The Town of Sharon has seen steady growth in the numbers of real estate transactions and increased values of houses for calendar year 2013 when compared to calendar year 2012.

Based on MLS data for single-family houses, here is a year-to-year comparison of houses sold inSharon:

2012:

 Houses sold:  209

 Average days-on-market: 112

 Average sales price:  $449,000

 Average selling price/list price ratio:  97%

 

2013:

Houses sold:  247

Average days-on-market: 76

Average sales price: $521,750

Average selling price/list price ratio: 98%

 This chart shows a significant increase in average selling price as well as a significant decrease in marketing time.

 The following market data will give you a look at specific price ranges and market performance for houses sold in 2013:

Under 300k  21  houses sold 

$300- 400k  56  houses sold

$400- 500k  53  houses sold

$500- 600k  40  houses sold

$600- 700k  43  houses sold

$700- 800k  19  houses sold

$800- 900k    7  houses sold

$900 -1mil     0  houses sold

Over $1mil     8  sold 

Almost every price range shows an increase in # of houses sold in 2013 as compared to calendar year 2012, with the exception of under $300k. The most significant improvement is found in the mid-range of $400k – 800k.

What’s happening so far in 2014?  The supply of houses available for sale is very limited, as of 1/28/2013 there are only 23 houses listed for sale through the MLS database. The available inventory is historically low which may result in continued upward pressure on house values in 2014.

Under $300k  0 houses

$300-400k     5 houses

$400-500k     3 houses

$500-600k     2 houses

$600-700k     4 houses

$700-800k     3 houses

$800-900k     1 house

$900-1 mil     1 house

Over 1 mil      4 houses

There are a number of reasons for the improved real estate market, both in Sharon which is renowned as the #1 place to live, and in the greater Boston area, as the economy continues to improve and mortgage rates remain at affordable levels.

 

Should you be more concerned about carbon monoxide in your house during the winter?

The answer is YES! Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and poisonous gas produced in your home as a result of incomplete burning of fuels such as natural gas, wood, oil, kerosene and propane gas. These are all prevalent in this region and can occur in fireplaces, gas stoves, and dryers as well as home heating systems.

During the winter season, heating systems are using more of these fuels while at the same time your house is less likely to be well-ventilated. These are prime conditions for carbon monoxide build-up and is another reason to have your heating system tuned up for efficiency and flues and chimneys checked for blockage or breaks.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, dizziness, and nausea which are more severe while in the house and diminish when out in fresh air.

Carbon monoxide detectors should be installed outside the bedroom areas and in every level of living space. Don’t install detectors near heating or cooking appliances or in humid areas like bathrooms. More sophisticated digital detectors continuously measure the level of carbon monoxide rather than simply sounding an alarm with increased levels. Plug-in or wired detectors should have battery back-up and all devices should be tested regularly (at least once a month during the heating season). If a detector alarm sounds, be sure to open windows to ventilate the house and get fresh air. Suspected sources of carbon monoxide should be immediately checked by a professional technician.

 

Preparing your house or condo for the winter

 

Q. How should I prepare my house for the winter? 

A. There are many things to consider to prepare your house for the cold winter months, with the safety factor of prime importance. Another consideration is energy conservation which will save you a significant amount of money while reducing energy consumption.

The first step is to have your heating system tuned up for the heating season. Your system will run more efficiently and will be less likely to break down when needed most. It is recommended that you have a professional heating contractor service a gas-fired system at least every other year and an oil-fired system checked annually. An easy and inexpensive maintenance item is the replacement of air filters which should be done monthly through the heating season to make your system run more efficiently and provide healthier air quality.

Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned once a year. Whether you use your fireplace or not, many heating systems and hot water tanks are vented through the chimney and need a functioning flue for proper exhaust. An inspection could reveal a compromised flue which is a serious safety concern. 

Mass Save promotes energy conservation and provides a no-cost Home Energy Assessment for your house. This is a valuable tool to provide energy-saving tips and guidance for making your house environmentally friendly and more energy efficient. Contact at 866-527-7283 or www.massave.com.

Another inexpensive improvement is to install programmable thermostats so that heat is used when necessary and saved during times away from the house or during the night. 

Be aware of safety issues when preparing for the winter heating season. Keep curtains and furniture away from heating vents and baseboard heat. This is not only a safety concern, but will reduce the heating efficiency if you have blocked heating vents. Do not use appliances such as ovens or toasters to heat any living space. If you use space heaters, leave at least a 3’ clearance from any potential flammable objects, and check for any dust that accumulates in and around the space heater, and keep an eye out for frayed or exposed wires. Space heaters should not be left on while unattended when you are out of the house or during sleeping hours.

Carbon monoxide is another safety topic which is addressed more completely in my next blog.

Buying a house in today's busy real estate market

Home Buying Tips in a busy real estate market:

 The local real estate market has seen significant improvement in activity in 2013.  Prices have been on the rise and inventory levels are low. Those properties that are competitively priced are attracting many buyers with potentially competing and multiple offers.

 

  1. Even before you are ready to buy, spend some time with your Realtor to discuss your “wish list” and realistic price range. You should be familiar with the inventory so that when you are ready to buy, you can recognize a well-priced property.
  2. Visit open houses and preview properties to establish a basis for values. Select a Buyer’s agent who knows and understands the local market.
  3. Line up your professional team to help you navigate through the homebuying process. You should develop a trusted relationship with an experienced buyer’s real estate agent, real estate attorney, professional home inspector, and mortgage lender.
  4. Discuss your financing needs with a mortgage professional and have a pre-approval ready to go. A pre-approval from your lender will hold more weight than a pre-qualification letter.
  5. If you are competing with other offers, make your offer as strong as possible with your highest and best price with few or no contingencies. The strongest offer will be for cash and without inspection contingencies, but this is not always recommended or possible.
  6. You can provide a very strong and competitive offer if you have 20% down payment, or offer a significant deposit which demonstrates to the seller that you are committed to buying the house. Have a trusted home inspector ready to complete the inspection within a few days of your accepted offer.
  7. Sellers will not only look at your offer amount, but consider the easiest path to complete the transaction. Find out what the sellers’ timeframe is for moving and offer to be flexible with their timeframe. Some sellers appreciate a personal note from a buyer which could sway their decision if other terms are similar.

 

You may or may not find yourself in a competing offer situation, but be prepared if necessary to make your offer as strong as you can.

E-sign

Q. Are electronic signatures acceptable on real estate documents?

A. Real Estate agreements and documents are not enforceable unless signed by the parties involved. An electronic signature is a legal tool intended to accomplish the same function as a handwritten signature which is an agreement to terms of a contract.

State and federal statutes and guidelines have been established so that electronic records and signatures carry the same weight and legal effect as traditional paper documents. There are no legal barriers to this technology being used for a real estate transaction. An electronic signature is only valid if the signer intends to sign the paperwork (there must be intent) and must separately agree to and consent to the use of electronic signatures.

Parties involved in the real estate transaction are considered consumers and there may be "required information" such as agency disclosure, or lead paint notification to be signed electronically. This can be done if specific consent is given by the consumer anytime prior to signing paperwork.

All signed paperwork needs to be in a format that can be retained and reproduced, and be accessible to all parties. An electronic
signature must be attached to or logically associated with the documents being signed. As electronic signatures become more user-friendly, signed documents and files can be readily shared thus reducing the need for hard copies and paper files.