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Why You Shouldn’t Trust Online Real Estate Price Estimates

Trust

The latest news making headlines throughout the real estate industry is the lawsuit against Zillow and their notorious “Zestimate” forecasting feature. It may sound engaging to quickly determine what your home (or your neighbor’s or colleague’s home) is worth, but these sorts of online appraisals — as the results have shown — can often times be misleading.

Take Illinois real estate lawyer, Barbara Andersen, for example. Barbara purchased her 3 bedroom town home in 2009 for $630,000. In consideration of the home’s floorplan and finishes, she is confident that hers home was of greater value than nearby units. When Barbara felt that her home was undervalued by $100,000 on Zillow’s Zestimate component, she took it up with the company. Zillow responded that Barbara should “go in and change her home facts.” Frustrated that the company had missed her point, Barbara’s concern is that Zillow should not be making estimates of home values at all. Her suit against the company alleges that, despite the company’s denial that Zestimates are considered “appraisals,” the fact that they offer market-value estimates and are promoted as a tool for buyers to assess a property’s value shows that they meet the definition of an appraisal under Illinois state law. Therefore, the company should be seeking and obtaining the consent of the homeowner before publicly releasing such estimates.

Homeowners, real estate agents and professional home appraisers have been sharply critical of Zestimates and other free appraisal tools for years. Estimates are often times 20 to 30 percent too low or too high. Zestimate error rates are off by 10 percent of the selling price roughly one quarter of the time. The prices are off by 20 percent more than one tenth of the time. Several homeowners have even noted that their rental properties skyrocketed in the wake of the housing collapse. These errors can risk tens- or hundreds of thousands of dollars, misleading buyers and creating roadblocks for sellers.

The main issue with Zillow’s estimates is that they are based off of comparable sales. In the economic downturn, volume decreased, which made real-time comparable hard to find. Pulling up home price estimates around an entire neighborhood can be helpful, but if there are only a few sales in the past few months, the statistics are going to be unreliable. If Zillow keeps its Zestimate feature, they should be encouraged to figure out what the seller paid for their home and when. This will provide more reliable information than delivering a stab in the dark based off of comparable sales.

Instead of relying on outdated pricing information, ensure that you are being delivered proper information with a CMA from a real estate professional. Real estate agents are trained to administer the comps on what similar properties have sold for recently. This will justify any validity in your potential pricing strategies. Our team at Bushari is made up of accomplished real estate professionals who are knowledgeable market analysts, clear communicators, skilled negotiators, creative marketers and are fully dedicated to exceptional customer service. Get to know them and browse through our current featured listings at BostonRealEstate.com.

Expert

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Moving? Here’s Bushari’s Ultimate Cleaning Checklist

homecleaning
Let’s face it, moving is one of the most stressful parts of the home buying process. On top of that, the job’s not done until your old house is emptied and cleaned; which can be stressful in and of itself. Washing windows and scrubbing floors may not sound like the most appealing aspects of the moving experience, but it is amongst the most important. You’ll want to clean up your old home in order to get back your security deposit or make your property more desirable for potential buyers. In addition, you’ll want to ensure that your new home is spotless when you’re moving in. We’ve compiled a checklist of cleaning activities in order to lessen the strain of shaping up your home and allow you to ease into the next chapter of your life.

 

ShoppingList

 

We recommend waiting until all your furniture items are packed up until beginning to clean. Trying to navigate around numerous pieces of furniture and moving boxes will just leave you with more work post-packing. An important rule to ensure time and quality effectiveness is to work task-by-task, rather than room-by-room – i.e. starting with dry cleaning activities like dusting and vacuuming each room then moving on to mopping and washing. Before you’re ready to focus on the rooms, you’ll want to take care of a few preliminary tidying duties.

 

Prelim

 

With the basic steps and rules in mind for cleaning your home, it’s time to move on to the rooms. Be sure to read through each of these checklists first and then prepare cleaning tasks as needed.  Remember, you’re going to want to perform these duties task-by-task rather than room-by-room.

Bedroom

Bathroom

Kitchen

Outside

 

Once you’re pleased with the cleanliness of your home, we advise that you take photographs in order to preserve proof of its excellent condition (and get your deposit back!). Before unpacking all of your belongings in your new home, you may want to go through a few of these steps once again in case the previous tenants neglected to leave it in perfect condition. Your furniture should be clean from the move, but may attract dust. A final dust cleaning throughout your new home should do just the trick – allowing you to relax and begin a new chapter of your life.

Click here to download the guide as a PDF.

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Download the 2017 Q1 Boston Real Estate Market Report

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Spring Market is in full bloom and things are heating up in Boston real estate, with more buyers looking for homes and more homeowners looking to sell. With the first quarter now in the books, this is an ideal time for buyers and sellers to take a closer look at the current market conditions in each of Boston’s neighborhoods. Throughout the city, the average selling price for a home is up by more than 10% over last year, so it has been an exceptionally strong start to 2017.

If you are a homeowner curious about the value of your home or someone looking to make a move to the city, the Bushari 2017 Boston Real Estate Q1 Market Report will be a valuable resource to you.2017-q1

download your free report

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Bushari Welcomes Mark Steinert

bushari-welcomes-mark

We are happy to announce Mark Steinert as the newest member of the Bushari Real Estate team.

Mark has been a resident of Boston proper for ten years and has built a reputation with his clients for being a meticulous, patient and easily accessible real estate professional.

Having lived in several of Boston’s neighborhoods, Mark has valuable insights into the particular charms that create each area’s unique identity. He specializes in full-service buildings and new construction, particularly in the South End, Midtown and Seaport District.

In addition to real estate, Mark enjoys live music, exploring new restaurants and traveling the Caribbean.

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Boston’s Sustainable Housing Boom

bostons-sustainable-housing-boom

 

Throughout the world, architects and designers have been increasingly focused on developing environmentally-friendly strategies. From utilizing recycled building materials to introducing solar energy and permaculture gardening, developers are putting an emphasis on sustainable living. Eco-friendly building design is of significant importance to Boston. A city-wide push under Mayor Walsh has achieved energy efficiency gains with capital improvements that yield savings and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. While over 400 buildings and projects throughout the city are already LEED certified, more developments have taken even greater bounds in leading the eco-friendly initiative.

Parker & Terrace Street Development

“Not just a building – a PARK”. This Mission Hill development has been recently approved by the Boston Planning & Development Agency; proposing 44 residential units in a thoughtfully-designed green building. Each unit has been designed around an outdoor space that helps create a unified indoor/outdoor experience. The developers’ goal is to unify the design of the building and the landscape to create a community in which residents may converge; linking artists, art-lovers, gardeners, bicyclists, and neighbors.

Each spacious and flexible one-, two- and three-bedroom unit opens into a private garden. Patios, courtyards and murals punctuate the steel facade of the building. Retail spaces permeate and activate the street and are defined by an inner courtyard with an open stair that connects the vibrant Terrace Street to the landscape above. This development also includes 30 motor vehicle parking spaces and 82 bicycle parking spaces. The project further incorporates a 14,000 square-foot community garden on its roof. A 14,500 square-foot solar farm provides electricity for the energy-efficient residential units and retail spaces. Heat is provided through a geothermal heating system and is distributed through radiant heating in the floors. The design achieves a projected energy surplus of 21% and a Platinum LEED score of 123 points. At Parker & Terrace street residences, you’ll be a part of the green living experience flourishing throughout several Boston neighborhoods.


Green at the Distillery

The Distillery is a new South Boston residential building located adjacent to the current Distillery site. The 1966 bottling plant has been replaced by a 65 unit residential building. The Distillery serves as a live/work area for artists with underground music practice rooms, an open courtyard venue for performances, galleries, an artist residency program, and public artworks.

The project incorporates “Passive House” design – a combination of an extremely insulated and non-porous building shell with a recovery ventilator. A typical residential building will use a system that pulls in air from the outside to heat or cool it on its way into the building while venting the warm or cool air back outside (thus wasting the energy embodied in it). A Passive House building’s recovery ventilator transfers the warmth or coolness of the air that is exiting the building into the new air coming in from the outside, resulting in a well-ventilated interior that has recycled its own warmth or coolness – creating an energy-efficient space that recovers its own heating and cooling.

 

passivhaus2

 

The Distillery project has surpassed the benchmarks set by the US Green Building Council’s LEED Rating system; using just 10% of the energy of an ordinary new residential development of this size. The project incorporates other green technologies including cogeneration of electricity, drain heat recovery, recycled gray water, community garden and food production and composting. The developers have also been working to improve the efficiency and environmental impact of transportation to and from the Distillery and the neighboring buildings. A collaboration with the MBTA has rerouted a downtown bus line to stop at the Distillery. The project further includes Zip Cars, electric car charging stations, and networked community carpooling. The developers of the Distillery are committed to ensuring that the building will remain an affordable and vibrant residence for Boston’s artists and artisans.


The Allandale Residences

Allandale Residences, recently approved by the Boston Planning and Development Agency, involves the construction of 14 new sustainable townhomes. All 3.5-4.5 story townhomes include three bedrooms and range from 1,600 to 2,800 square-feet. The homes will further include private entrances and internal garages. Developers Wonder Group LLC of Dorchester claim that its development will add no demands to the regional electricity grid and will be able to withstand strong storms that could come with global climate change.

The entire site will complement the surrounding Allandale Woods conservation area and is expected to target Net Zero efficiency and LEED Platinum performance. The townhomes will be built into an existing hill on the site and positioned to take most advantage of the sun for their roof solar panels. Bio-swales and vegetated rain gardens will line paved areas and a new vegetated stormwater treatment system will retain and filter water – providing a recreational/visual amenity for the community. The site is conveniently situated on the West Roxbury and Jamaica Plain border, offering direct access to the Arnold Arboretum, Allandale Farm and Allandale Woods.

Highland Street Development

The new development at 226-232 Highland consists of four three-story wood-frame townhomes in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. The project took over a formerly vacant site occupying a prominent corner that overlooks the historic Fort Hill neighborhood. This project was conceived as a prototype for family-friendly, energy-efficient townhomes. Each unit is approximately 1,850 square-feet with flexible floor plans including large rear decks and backyards.

The Highland Street project was developed under the City of Boston’s Energy Plus Green Building Program which seeks to develop energy-positive sustainable green housing. Developers Urbanica, Inc were chosen through a design competition organized by the Boston Planning and Development Agency and the Department of Neighborhood development. Each of the townhomes are radically sustainable and capable of producing more energy than they consume. The project has achieved HERS ratings between -6 and -9 and is certified LEED Platinum. Throughout the project, sustainability was the primary driver for design decisions. Sustainability measures include strategies for improving energy performance and stormwater management. Air and daylight access contributed to south-facing sloped roofs with solar panels and terraced landscaping managing water along the site’s slope. These energy-efficient features have sparked a long-term conversation within a diverse community about the importance of sustainability in the design of residential structures.

For more information on these and other developments throughout the Greater Boston area, view our new residential Crane Watch.

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Bushari Welcomes Nicole Rosmarin

bushari-welcomes-nicole-rosmarin

 

We are happy to announce Nicole Rosmarin as the newest member of the our team. Nicole is an enthusiastic real estate professional dedicated to providing her clients with an exceptional experience while searching for their new homes.

A Massachusetts native, Nicole attended Furman University, where she double-majored in Business Administration and Earth and Environmental Sciences. Following school, she pursued a career in fundraising and endowment fund management. Her interest in the real estate industry was sparked by the process of purchasing her first home. Seeing how difficult the process can be, Nicole pursued a career in real estate with the goal of making each transaction as fun and seamless as possible.

Nicole currently resides in Gloucester and enjoys sailing, squash, running and spending time with her friends and family.

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Reaching New Heights: The Residential Towers Set to Give Boston’s Skyline a Facelift

bostons-new-skyline
For decades, the Boston skyline has remained more or less unchanged, dominated by high-rise office buildings. Midtown’s Millennium Tower marked the beginning of the city’s residential tower boom and, over the course of the next several years, it will be joined by a slate of new luxury buildings that will take the city to new heights. From the gleaming facade of the upcoming Four Seasons Hotel & Residences at One Dalton to the gorgeous renderings of the Bullfinch Crossing Tower, there’s a lot to be excited about in Boston real estate.

 

towers

See below for our map of where these new towers will be located.

To learn more about these and other developments in Boston, head to BostonRealEstate.com’s Crane Watch feature and sign up for a Property Alert.

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Smarten Up Your Home with These Essential Devices

smarten-up-your-home

In our current age of technology, the bulk of our scheduling, work, task management and entertainment revolves around our phones and computers. Recently, these trends have made their way into our offices, our cars and even our homes. The most recent trend that has made its way into modern-day homes is the introduction of smart home products. A smart home provides its home owners with convenience, comfort, security, and energy efficiency at all times, regardless of whether or not they are home.

This current generation of smart home products provides convenience by saving consumers time, money and energy. We’ve compiled a list of six essential gadgets that will help your home “get smart”!

Lighting

Automated lighting is usually the first step that homeowners take when entering the smart home lifestyle. Lighting is fairly simple to set up and can be relatively inexpensive if you have the right product in mind. Below are a few popular lighting products for the price conscious smart-home shopper.

Philips

Caseta

OtherLighting


Temperature Control

In recent months, more and more homes have been advertised with built-in smart thermostats. They assist in keeping your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer while saving energy and lowering utility bills. Further, many of these devices are controlled remotely through your own smartphone. There are three primary contenders for smart home temperature control devices.

Nest

Ecobee

Lyric


Security Systems

Thanks to advances in smart home technology, you can now have peace of mind at the touch of a button. These security systems, using cameras, alarms and motion sensors, will help you keep your home safe from anywhere in the world.

Scout

Canary

NestCam


Recreation

Smart entertainment devices can help streamline your recreational setup. Get right into your favorite playlist or new movie without the typical lengthy process. Interact with your applications in a seamless manner through touch, gesture or voice. These devices will allow for you to more intuitively control the entertainment environment of your home.

Echo

Sonos

OtherEntertainment

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Kitchen Design Trends for 2017

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For homeowners, remodeling a kitchen can not only help increase the home’s resale value but also contribute to a healthier lifestyle, according to the recently-published Houzz 2017 Kitchen Trend Survey. The survey questioned more than 2,700 homeowners who have recently undergone a kitchen renovation or are in the process of one, to get a better understanding of design and lifestyle trends that we’ll be seeing in kitchens over the course of the next year. Here’s a recap of what they found:

PROJECT TRIGGERS

43% of respondents said that they undertook the renovation because they could “no longer stand the old kitchen” while 40% said that it was something that they always wanted to do and finally have the means, up 3% from the previous year.


LIFESTYLE CHANGES

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More than 33% of homeowners said that their kitchen renovations contributed to an overall healthier lifestyle. 49% saw an increase in family time, while 41% ate healthier by cooking at home.


LARGER, OPEN SPACES

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More than one-third of responders said that their renovations included increasing the size of the kitchen, with 51% of them opening up to other rooms and 20% more open to the outdoors.


BUILDING MATERIALS

BostonREP - Marek Biela

Aesthetic and durability were considered the two most important factors for selecting countertop and flooring materials, across all age levels of the respondents. For millennials, the cost of materials was third, while ease of cleaning was third for older generations.

For aesthetic purposes, the most popular materials were marble for counters and wood for floors; granite counters and porcelain flooring ranked highest in terms of durability.


UPGRADES

The three most upgraded features in the kitchen were:

countertops

backsplash

sinks

 

The top built-in features receiving upgrades were:

cabinets

island

breakfast-bar

COLORS

This year, the most popular color for walls was gray, with 26% of the vote (an increase of 4% over the previous year). White was the most popular color for cabinets, with 42% of the vote (also an increase of 4% over the previous year).

You can download the full U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study here.

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Download the 2016 Boston Real Estate Year-End Summary

2016-year-end-summary
We know that 2016 was a record-breaking year in the Boston Real Estate market, highlighted by the opening of Millennium Tower. Now that the final numbers have been released, however, we can get a much clearer understanding of exactly how the market has changed over the past year.

Some statistics to note: the average selling price for a Boston home increased by 21.5% in 2016 while the average days on market decreased from 44 to 34. If you’re looking to get the highest value for your home, in the shortest amount of time, there has never been a better time to be a seller in the city.

If you are a homeowner curious about the value of your home or someone looking to make a move to the city, the Bushari 2016 Boston Real Estate Year-End Summary will be a valuable resource to you.

2016-year-end-download-free-market-report

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