When Do You Decide to Downsize and Sell Your Home?

by Jack Morrison on April 6, 2017

photo of the word downsizing

The day you realize your house is no longer your home.

“The home is where your heart is…”

Gaius Plinius Secundus, A Roman Philosopher said about 2,000 years ago. (Thank you Google).

Your Home is where your family lives, sleeps, talks, eats, entertains, shelters, celebrates, cries, or otherwise exists.  It’s your solitude, your castle, your expression, your own little piece of the world.

Your home is full of life while kids grow up. It starts with birthday parties, holiday gatherings, cookouts, sporting events, school activities, and music classes.   Then turns into boyfriends, girlfriends, mood swings, school issues, testing boundries, teenage drama, and boosting bloodpressures. And then moves to college, move-out, move-in, growing up, and becoming responsible.    All of this happens too fast.

You remember someone telling you to cherish the times with your children… they go by too fast.

When kids move out, a quiet eeriness fills the void. The house is filled with memories, but not people.

You look back and remember the time you couldn’t wait to move to a larger home. Bigger yard, larger house, higher mortgage. It didn’t matter. It’s what you WANTED.

Now that the kids have gone, something is missing. Too much lawn, too big to clean, too expensive.

So as the season’s change, so should you.

It’s your turn.  It’s time for you.  You, the homeowner, decide.  What do you want to do?…Stay put or downsize?

Life moves forward, with or without you.

10 Reasons to Downsize Your Home:

  1. When your basement, or attic, is full of stuff that’s not yours;
  2. There are rooms in your home you haven’t been in for 30 consecutive days or more;
  3. When your taxes are more than $600 per month and none of your children attend elementary or high school in town.
  4. When your lawn service person or cleaning person is driving a better car than you.
  5. When you paint one room and realize the rest of the house needs to be done.
  6. When the stuff in your house gets to a point that you’re willing to pay to store it vs. having to decide what to keep or what to let go.
  7. While trying to find something, you look in every closet and realize how much sh** you’ve acquired.
  8. If your mortgage is paid or close to being paid – making your equity work for you and not working to gain equity.
  9. You finally get away from the nasty neighbor once and for all.
  10. When your goal is to simplify and realize that having personal belongings is not as important as creating new memories.

When your house no longer is your home, it’s time to downsize and sell.

Why Home Inspections Misbehave

by Jack Morrison on March 15, 2016

home inspection checklist

 Why Home Inspections Misbehave?

by Attorney Jack Morrison


Have you noticed more problems with home inspections? It’s not that home inspectors are finding more problems or getting too picky. It’s how the buyer uses the home inspection results.

I recently had a situation where the buyer and seller went back and forth with price negotiations. Both parties refused to budge. Reluctantly, the parties agreed on a price, but, the buyer’s home inspection became another opportunity to re-open the negotiations. The house was not new. It’s 20 years old. All critical systems –plumbing, heating, and wiring were operational. The buyers’ tact was the life expectancy of those systems and the cost to replace them. Yeah, really?

Anyways, sellers didn’t budge. And we –myself and the buyer’s lawyer, went back and forth trying to resolve the price difference. Crazy, yes, I know.

But, why is the home inspection misbehaving?

It’s my opinion; the purpose of a home inspection is to determine the condition of the property. When negotiating price, a buyer wants to be sure they are not buying more problems. That’s it. Maybe if we change the name of the home inspection report to the “This is what your buying Report” it would make it clearer.

Now, I can’t blame the buyers, their agents or their attorney for their inventive use of the home inspection report. They’re creative.

Some people love negotiations. It’s part of the blood, heritage, and purpose. You can’t avoid them…unfortunately. But, you have to deal with them. Setting the tone of the negotiations should minimize the abuse.

When counseling buyers and sellers in the role of negotiating home inspection issues establish the tone at the beginning of the process. Let the buyer, seller, and their agents know what to expect from a home inspection. Unless it’s a new home, there will be maintenance issues. Systems wear over time. You should expect this. Unless a home inspector discovers situation which would endanger the inhabitants, the house is “as is.”

By the way, you’re probably interested in the results of the misbehaved home inspection, the parties resolved their concerns. It wasn’t easy. When a seller wants to sell, and a buyer wants to buy, I see my role as “closing the deal.” (Of course, all within reason).

When selling your home, one of best methods to minimize home inspection issues is to have a home inspection before listing your home.

In my book, the 21 Commandments Every Home Buyer or Selling In Massachusetts Needs To Know, Section 3, Seventeenth Commandment, Thou Shall Have A Home Inspection Before Listing,  I suggest a seller conduct a home inspection.   Homeowners should be aware of the condition of their property before selling.  When sellers expect top dollar for their home, the house should be in top condition…in my opinion.

Here are my 4 reasons why a seller should obtain a home inspection:

  1. Know the problems before listing the property. Having a home inspection identifies potential problems.  Knowing the problems, a seller can determine if they want to fix it or reveal it.  Don’t let a buyer discover the problem at home inspection.    It will cost the seller a buyer or more money in negotiations.   Instead, fix it or reveal it.  A potential buyer will appreciate your honestly and truthfulness.   Remember, the purpose of a home inspection is to determine the condition of the house…not another opportunity to negotiate the selling price.
  2. Get costs estimates to resolve the problems. Know your numbers. Whether a seller makes the repairs or negotiates the repairs with a buyer, you need to have a dollar amount associated with the repair.  The costs will vary.  Having an estimate of the cost of the repair gives you a guideline to negotiate a price reduction.  When a buyer asks for a $5,000 concession for a mold remediation problem, your estimate of $1,200 from a licensed mold elimination professional brings the negotiations into a more “realistic” range.
  3. Minimize Surprises. The last thing a buyer wants to see at a home inspection are major problems with the house.   I’m sure most sellers want to minimize surprises as well.   One of the best ways to do this is to have a home inspection.   At a minimum, most home inspections should reveal obvious deficiencies.  Know in advance what’s needed to bring the condition of your house to an acceptable level.
  4. Ethical Issues. As a seller, you don’t have to reveal problems with your home unless specially asked.    This is known as caveat emptor,  which means “buyer beware.” I know that this is the law, but I don’t agree with it.   I believe that sellers should reveal known problems or fix them… don’t hide them.   Again, this is my opinion.   I believe this because I have seem many deals fall apart when a buyer discovers problems where a seller has knowledge.  It’s a shame.   The buyer become very defensive.  They may negotiate a price reduction.    Others, just cancel the deal.   They believe there are other items that the seller is hiding and not telling them.  When things go bad, everyone wants to point a finger.

Knowing the condition of the property before listing puts the power into the hands of the seller.   Having known problems repaired or revealed can provide a potential buyer with confidence and trust that the seller isn’t “hiding” anything.   A home inspector may report evidence of recent repairs to the property.   This further supports a seller’s credibility.

Until next time.

 

Everyone has a story, right? I’d like to share how (and why) I—a guy with a Mechanical Engineering background—got involved in Massachusetts real estate law.

After I graduated from college back in the 80s, I moved down to Connecticut with a college roommate where we started buying investment property. We’d move in, renovate, and eventually sell the property to turn a profit. The money, and the business, were good (at first anyway). My day job in the aerospace and sales fields eventually took me back up to Massachusetts, which is where my personal and professional life took a turn I wasn’t expecting.

See, I had bought an investment property but had problems keeping tenants. Constant vacancies were affecting my bottom line. Normally, you think of investors making a boatload of money. Unfortunately that’s not always the case. As hard as I tried to turn it around and get resources to help me, I never found anything helpful for people in my situation. Why does it end up that people always talk about success and rarely talk about the taboo topic of failure?

Anyway, I ended up losing the property to a foreclosure. After I went through the foreclosure, a totally foreign topic to me, I knew I wanted to get involved in real estate. To explore all the areas I could get into, I met with a commercial agent, residential agent, appraiser, management company, and finally a real estate attorney. And the attorney made the most sense of them all and resonated with me.

I went through law school, graduated, passed the bar, and started from square 1 trying to build my practice. Since then I’ve worked with clients across the spectrum—with both landlords and tenants, home buyers and sellers. I make sure each party understands their rights and I enjoy breaking down legal topics into easily understandable concepts based on how they apply to each individual’s situation.

Because I understand the practical end of real estate (I experienced both the ups and downs) and I know the legal end, I know where my clients are coming from. This is not only my specialty, it’s what I enjoy.

If you need a Clinton or Worcester real estate lawyer, I’d love to be of assistance. Call me, Attorney Jack Morrison, at 508-852-7800. Or, reach out via our contact form. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. 

We are currently in Week 4 of our monthly November series, “The Biggest Blunders of Home Buying” based on my popular free ebook for Massachusetts home buyers. I wrote this because I see first-time buyers making the same mistakes over and over. Our monthly series schedule is as follows:

  1. Finance First, Look Later
  2. Buy the Neighborhood or Location, Not the House
  3. Get Everything in Writing
  4. Get a Home Inspection
  5. How to Find the Right Attorney

If you missed one of the previous articles, feel free to check them out. Now on to our next topic: get a home inspection.

Biggest Blunder #4: Get a Home Inspection

I really wish I didn’t have to include this as one of my 5 biggest blunders. Getting a home inspection seems pretty obvious, right? I’m glad you think so. But you wouldn’t believe how many first-time buyers come to me due to problems they experience because they waived their right to a home inspection.

I have one rule about this: never, never, never, never NEVER buy a home without having it inspected.

If you’ve made an offer and are looking for a home inspector, you need to find a trusted professional who has an eye for detail, professional accreditation and relevant experience. This article by MSN Real Estate, 4 tips for finding the best home inspector, goes into an interesting explanation about why you shouldn’t always hire the first person your real estate agent recommends to you.

For my Worcester legal real estate clients, I recommend that they use a home inspection as a negotiating tool. I help them leverage this to make sure they achieve their goals.

If you’d like more tips and must-do action items, get my ebook, “How to Avoid The 5 Biggest Blunders When Buying Your First Home (It Will Save You Thousands of Dollars And Hours of Time)” on the homepage of my Worcester real estate lawyer website.

Or, if you have questions for a Worcester real estate lawyer, I’d love to be of assistance. Call me, Attorney Jack Morrison, at 508-852-7800. Or, reach out via our contact form. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Real estate matters can get complicated. But I have one simple rule that applies across the board with no exception: GET IT IN WRITING. Unfortunately, many people fail to stick to this rule and unforeseen challenges inevitably pop up.

Before we delve into this topic, I wanted to let you know that I’m bringing you this monthly November series, “The Biggest Blunders of Home Buying” based on my popular free ebook for Massachusetts home buyers. I wrote this because I see first-time buyers making the same mistakes over and over. Our monthly series schedule is as follows:

  1. Finance First, Look Later
  2. Buy the Neighborhood or Location, Not the House
  3. Get Everything in Writing
  4. Get a Home Inspection
  5. How to Find the Right Attorney

If you missed one of the previous articles, feel free to check them out. Now on to our next topic: get everything in writing.

Biggest Blunder #3: Get Everything In Writing
First-time homebuyers are trusting people. Often, they believe and trust what a seller or their agent says. But legally, all transfers of real estate must be in writing to be enforceable. This is called the Statute of Fraud, and it prevents oral agreements from being enforced where the transfer of land is involved.

Bottom line, you must be specific as to what you want—and what you don’t want—when it comes to buying your first home. Don’t only get specific verbally; put it in writing. If you want all of the seller’s possessions removed from the premises prior to closing, put it in writing. You might feel silly or feel like you are pointing out something obvious, but why take the chance?

For more tips and must-do action items, get my ebook, “How to Avoid The 5 Biggest Blunders When Buying Your First Home (It Will Save You Thousands of Dollars And Hours of Time)” on the homepage of my Worcester real estate lawyer website.

If you have questions for a Worcester real estate lawyercall me, Attorney Jack Morrison, at 508-852-7800. Or, reach out via our contact form. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. 

This week we continue with our Worcester real estate series, “The 5 Biggest Blunders When Buying Your First Home.” This series is based on my popular free ebook for Massachusetts home buyers, which I wrote because I see first-time buyers making the same mistakes over and over. Here is our monthly series schedule:

  1. Finance First, Look Later
  2. Buy the Neighborhood or Location, Not the House
  3. Get Everything in Writing
  4. Get a Home Inspection
  5. How to Find the Right Attorney

Now, this next topic is important so let’s get to it: Buy the Neighborhood or Location, Not the House.

Biggest Blunder #1: Buy the Neighborhood or Location, Not the House
Location, location, location. This is not the first time you’ve heard this, and it won’t be the last. The most common blunder first-time home buyers make is looking at the house first, then the neighborhood or location second. This is a big mistake. Let’s discuss why.

Buying a home today is not like buying a home 50 years ago. You are not going to buy a house and stay in it the rest of your life. In fact, did you know that the average homeowner changes homes every 5-7 years? This is a concept your grandparents (and maybe your parents) may not understand. But times have changed. This is your FIRST home…not your last. You are allowed to grow out of the first home.

So one piece of advice that I offer my clients consistently, is to buy what you need now. Look for things that other people who are in your position in 5-7 years will look for too.

Despite all the warnings out there, another mistake I see home buyers make frequently is that they try and buy the best house in a lousy neighborhood. Do it the other way around: buy a lousy house in a great neighborhood.  Now, when I say lousy, I’m referring to cosmetic problems (not foundational or structural problems) that can be remedied with a little TLC.

If you’re interested in buying a condo, you have to check out this section in my ebook where I go into detail about one of the most important aspects of a condo: the management.

The last word I want to leave you with, is that this house can’t be all things: the bachelor pad, the 4-kid house, and the retirement home. It won’t accommodate all phases of your life.

You can get my ebook, How to Avoid The 5 Biggest Blunders When Buying Your First Home (It Will Save You Thousands of Dollars And Hours of Time) on the homepage of my Worcester real estate lawyer website.

If you have questions for a Worcester real estate lawyercall me, Attorney Jack Morrison, at 508-852-7800. Or, reach out via our contact form. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. 

 

As a Worcester Real Estate attorney, I’m in the position to see the multiple and varied mistakes that first-time homebuyers often make. I even wrote a free ebook for my potential buyers about it because I see these mistakes being made over and over. Throughout the week of November,  I’ll highlight several of the topics in this ebook, “The 5 Biggest Blunders When Buying Your First Home.” Our series will include important topics such as:

  1. Finance First, Look Later
  2. Buy the Neighborhood or Location, Not the House
  3. Get Everything in Writing
  4. Get a Home Inspection
  5. How to Find the Right Attorney

Now, let’s dive right in to the first topic: Finance First, Look Later.

Biggest Blunder #1: Finance First, Look Later

One of the first mistakes I often see from first-time home buyers is that they get really excited about purchasing their new home and they dive right in to looking at homes online and scheduling showings in-person. But overlooking financing first is a big oversight.

If you’ve never undergone the process of applying for a mortgage before, you’ll be surprised to learn that the process is very involved and takes so long. You’ll have to gather many things together first for the mortgage officer, including verification of employment, bank statements, pay stubs and proof of deposit funds on loans.

It’s important to finance first because it’s a waste of your time to look for homes that are out of your budget. And conversely, you might be looking at homes that might not meet all your needs because you’re looking in too low of a range.

For more information on this important topic, check out my free ebook that includes a helpful checklist, “The Top 10 Questions You Must Ask Every Mortgage Officer” when looking to get a loan.

You can get my ebook, How to Avoid The 5 Biggest Blunders When Buying Your First Home (It Will Save You Thousands of Dollars And Hours of Time) on the homepage of my Worcester real estate lawyer website.

If you have questions for a Worcester real estate lawyercall me, Attorney Jack Morrison, at 508-852-7800. Or, reach out via our contact form. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Fixed or Variable: Which Mortgage is Best for You?

by Jack Morrison on November 3, 2011

While preparing to buy a home, you have many choices to make: condo or townhome…two bedrooms or three… in-town location or suburb…the list can go on and on.

One of the decisions you have to make when it comes to financing your purchase is deciding between a fixed mortgage or an adjustable rate mortgage. We’ve listed out a few advantages and disadvantages to each.

Fixed Mortgage:

  • The obvious pro, or advantage, is that the fixed mortgage rate remains constant over the term of your mortgage. And in 2011, interest rates are as low as they have been in a number of years.
  • Most of the time, it’s in your best interest to consider a fixed rate over a variable mortgage.
  • If you’re the type of person who wants to know what your payments are going to be for the entire 30 years, this is the way to go.
  • The only variation in a fixed rate mortgage occurs when your insurance or taxes go up or down.

Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM):

  • In general, ARMs are less expensive on a monthly basis for the term of the loan.
  • Some are 3-, 4-, 5- and 7-year fixed interest rates. After this time period, the rate fluctuates annually or semi-annually, depending on the terms and conditions of the note.
  • An ARM is a good option if you know you’ll only be in your house for 3-5 years. This occurs frequently with people whose jobs require them to move.
  • The disadvantage of course, is that if you stay in the house longer than you anticipated you may be paying a much higher monthly bill than if you had initially decided on a fixed mortgage.

We hope this brings some clarification to helping you make your decision. One last tip: did you know if you make one extra monthly payment per year on a 30-year mortgage starting at the beginning of your mortgage term, it reduces the length of time you have to pay back your loan from 30 to 22 years? Just food for thought.

If you have questions for a Worcester real estate attorneycall me, Attorney Jack Morrison, at 508-852-7800. Or, reach out via our contact form. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. 

Thinking of Buying a House? Just Do It!

by Jack Morrison on November 2, 2011

It’s time for a change. If you’ve had that inkling for some now telling you to do something different, go ahead. Listen.

If you’re living at home or in an apartment, now is the best time to enter the real estate market due to unprecedented interest rates and the abundance of quality inventory (homes).

So how do you get started? First, make sure your mindset is realistic. What do I mean by that? You must look at your immediate needs and concerns. One mistake buyers often make is that they look for a house that meets all of their life needs rolled into one—bachelor (or bachelorette) pad, honeymoon suite, family home and retirement home.

Not Your Grandparents’ Real Estate market
Years ago you could look for the house that had it all. Our grandparents (and possibly parents) lived in the same house through their empty nester or retirement years. Times have changed.

If you’re looking for your first home, try a condo. Condos often provide access to major metropolitan areas. With a family, you may not want that. You might also be close to an area with a good nightlife, dining and other amenities that young professionals would find desirable.

Tailor your search to your needs right now. Although your first home may be smaller, it’s good enough for your needs at this stage. The average American changes homes every 5-7 years. Look for something short-term as opposed to “the last house I’ll ever get into.”

Free Ebook: “How to Avoid The 5 Biggest Blunders When Buying Your First Home”
Interested in hearing more? Resetting expectations is just one of the subjects I cover in my free ebook, “How to Avoid The 5 Biggest Blunders When Buying Your First Home…(It Will Save You Thousands of Dollars And Hours of Time).”

To get your free ebook today, visit http://massrealestateclosinglawyer.com/. Submit your name and email address and the ebook will be emailed to you.

If you have questions for a Worcester real estate lawyercall me, Attorney Jack Morrison, at 508-852-7800. Or, reach out via our contact form. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.