John Colby
Colby Realty | 978-249-5871 | [email protected]


Posted by John Colby on 1/10/2021

Image by Andy Dean Photography from Shutterstock

In past housing markets, it was common for investors to flip houses. Unfortunately, when the housing bubble burst, many buyers couldn't update and sell the homes they'd bought. After a bit of a downturn, the trend has picked back up. However, savvy investors know that the housing market has much tighter margins than it has in the past. If you’re thinking about getting into the house-flipping game, consider the following tips as you get started.

Here are some tips to protect your potential investment:

  • Not every housing market is profitable: Many homes can be purchased, renovated, and potentially sold in every part of the country. But some locations do not have the sort of economic growth that makes property flipping viable. Know your market and local property values. Keep in touch with what’s happening in the community and be prepared with a plan B in case the home doesn’t sell.

  • Do your homework. There are fewer deeply discounted homes available to investors. Plan to pay the full price in cash but arrange a contingency to have the home inspected. If the inspection reveals issues, especially with primary systems such as electrical and plumbing, walk away. Or, offer the seller a lower price to account for needed repairs, and potentially get a better deal. Anything revealed during the inspection that the seller did not fix your responsibility to repair or replace before you can flip the property.

  • Respect your margins. Unlike in reality shows the profit made from buying and selling a home is not as large as it appears. When you find undervalued homes, you need a cushion built-in for the rehab. If the difference between what you paid and the new selling price is insignificant, it’s not a sound investment. Avoid purchasing property that requires thousands of dollars of repairs or upgrades. You'll end up with a lovely home, but little to no income to show from it.

  • Constantly monitor the inventory. Fewer homes on the market mean finding one with flip potential is more difficult. 

Seek help from a professional

Maintain a close relationship with your real estate professional so that when potential homes come on the market, you’re the first to hear. Your real estate professionals know the local market. They watch the trends and know who is buying, who is selling, and who is holding. They also know which repairs and upgrades are essential to make a quick sale. Let them guide you.




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Posted by John Colby on 1/3/2021

If you intend to list your residence in the near future, you might believe your house is worth more than you originally paid for it. However, there are many factors that impact a house's value, and these factors include:

1. The Current State of the Real Estate Market

The housing market can vary from city to city, town to town and state to state. So it's generally a good idea to analyze the local real estate climate. You then can use housing market data to determine whether the current real estate climate favors buyers or sellers.

In a buyer's market, there is typically an abundance of quality houses. Meanwhile, a seller likely will need to dedicate time and resources to differentiate his or her home from the competition in a buyer's market. A seller will also want to hire a real estate agent who can help them navigate the challenges of listing a residence in a buyer's market.

Comparatively, in a seller's market, a seller has a golden opportunity to maximize their house sale earnings. In this market, there is usually a shortage of first-rate houses, and homes may sell shortly after they become available. If the market is currently favoring sellers, you may be better equipped than ever before to enjoy a seamless house selling experience.

2. Your Home's Condition

Over the years, you may have committed substantial time and resources to upgrade your residence both inside and out. As such, if you list your home now, your residence may be worth more than you initially paid for it.

On the other hand, if your home has its fair share of problems, these issues may negatively affect its value. But if you upgrade your house before you list it, you could improve your house's value accordingly.

Of course, a home appraisal may help you verify the current value of your residence based on its condition, the housing market, and other factors. During a house appraisal, a property expert will analyze your residence both inside and out. They will provide you with an appraisal report that can help you determine how to price your house.

3. The Economy

Economic fluctuations are common across the United States, and the present state of the national economy may have far-flung effects on your house's value.

For example, a thriving economy may lead people to pursue their dreams of owning a house. In this economy, a seller who lists a top-notch house could reap the benefits of a fast, profitable home selling experience.

Conversely, in a fledgling economy, the number of home sellers may exceed the number of homebuyers. In this scenario, sellers will need to work diligently to promote their residences to the right groups of potential buyers and price their residences competitively.

Consider these factors as you get set to list your home. By doing so, you can analyze your home's value and explore ways to boost the likelihood of getting the best price for your residence.





Posted by John Colby on 12/27/2020

For those who plan to list a house in the foreseeable future, it often is beneficial to track the real estate market. By doing so, a home seller can identify real estate market patterns and trends and quickly address any potential property selling hurdles.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you analyze housing market data so you can accelerate the property selling journey.

1. Review the Prices of Recently Sold Houses in Your Area

Check out the prices of recently sold houses in your city or town. That way, you can find out whether sellers are accepting offers to purchase at or above their initial home asking prices.

Furthermore, it may be a good idea to see how your house ranks against recently sold residences. With this housing market data in hand, you may be better equipped than ever before to establish a competitive initial asking price for your home.

2. Determine How Quickly Houses Are Selling

As a home seller, you should find out whether you're preparing to enter a buyer's or seller's market. If you look at how quickly houses are selling in your city or town, you can distinguish a buyer's market from a seller's one.

In a buyer's market, you will find many sellers and few buyers. Conversely, in a seller's market, there is an abundance of buyers and few sellers.

The differences between a buyer's and seller's market are significant. If you understand whether you're getting ready to sell your home in a housing market that favors buyers or sellers, you can determine how to price your residence so it will generate plenty of interest from buyers. And as a result, you may be able to streamline the home selling journey.

3. Assess the Prices of Homes That Are Similar to Your Own

Your home may be one of many available to property buyers. Thus, you should review the prices of houses in your city or town that are similar to your own. This housing market data will help you narrow the price range for your residence.

Also, you may want to review rival home sellers' property listings and see how these sellers promote their residences to prospective buyers. Because if you can find ways to differentiate your home listing from competitors', you could boost the likelihood of a successful house selling experience.

As you prepare to add your house to the real estate market, you may want to hire a real estate agent as well. A real estate agent will offer recommendations so you can enhance your residence both inside and out and help you establish a competitive initial home asking price. Plus, a real estate agent will help you review an offer to purchase your home and determine the best course of action.

Take the guesswork out of selling your house – use the aforementioned tips, and you can monitor the real estate market and use housing sector data to simplify the property selling journey.




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Posted by John Colby on 12/20/2020

Image by Sue Smith from Shutterstock

House owners frequently remodel, upgrade, or otherwise make changes in their homes for which they do not secure a permit. While some changes do not require permitting, others do. The challenge comes when you attempt to sell the home. You may run into a problem when a buyer makes an offer on such a property, and their inspector discovers unpermitted changes. Their mortgage lender may be unwilling to give them a loan until you remedy the permit issue.

Additionally, since building codes often change from year to year and certainly from decade to decade, and the property may have changed hands more than once before it came to you. Even if the upgrade occurred before you purchased it, you might be the one responsible for fixing it with your municipality.

What can you do? When you believe your home has unpermitted construction, learn as much as you can about it:

  • When did installation take place? Before you took ownership of the house? After? 

  • What is the construction? A pergola? A sunroom? That necessary second bathroom?

  • In the year or era of construction, was a permit required? Is there a permit in place of which you're not aware?

  • Can it be grandfathered?

What is “Grandfathering”?

The term “grandfather clause” refers to an exception to a code, restriction, or legal requirement. It allows anything already done legally “at the time” to continue even if a new limitation would not allow it. Regarding unpermitted home upgrades, if the construction was before the change in the code, check to see if the code requires retroactive compliance. In that case, exceptions typically pose a danger to anyone living in the home or on the property and need remediation. When code changes do not require retroactive compliance, knowing the date of the construction puts you in the clear.

Retroactive Permitting

When you discover retrofits, additions, upgrades, or renovations in your home, search city or county records for a permit. Ask for help to see if that type of work in the year(s) of its completion required one. If it needed a permit, and you do not find one in place, either request a retroactive authorization or plan to sell your home "as is" to a willing buyer. Municipalities often have methods in place to offer retroactive permits. Check to determine the total cost of the permitting process. In addition to the permit fee, you may have to pay fines, inspections, and other fees. Any modifications required because of the permitting process become your responsibility. When the total cost of obtaining retroactive permits and related fees and construction costs is higher than the return on your investment, consider the “as is” process.

Selling Your Home "As Is"

When you choose to sell your property "as is," you no longer need to disclose to the municipal building department that you may have unpermitted construction. Until you are sure you want to request a retroactive permit, do not disclose information when you communicate with building code offices that might trigger an inspection. 

In the selling process, however, fully disclose to your real estate agent all items you know about for certain. That is, tell them about additions or upgrades you installed while in ownership. Make sure a sale is not delayed or falls through because a lender requires a permit. Have an appropriate "as is" clause written into the sales contract. 

Confer with your real estate agent to determine if seeking a permit is in your best interested when selling with unpermitted additions.





Posted by John Colby on 12/13/2020

Photo by Roman Samborskyi via Shutterstock

Buying your first home is exciting! And scary! But you don’t have to fear the process if you take the time to become fully prepared for homeownership. Below are the seven primary keys to preparing yourself and smoothing the process.

How to Know You’re Ready

  • Determine how much you can afford. The first step to homeownership is figuring out what fits your current budget. Note that although your income may go up over time, buying a home, speculating that you’ll make more money and can afford a bigger payment is a recipe for disaster. In general, you don’t want your housing costs (mortgage payment, insurance, property taxes, HOA) to be more than 25% of your take-home pay.
  • Research which mortgages can save you the most money. A conventional loan, with at least 20% for a down payment, lets you avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). That’s an extra reduction in monthly outgo, so strive to hit that mark. If you can’t afford twenty percent, put at least ten percent down. Less than that means your monthly outflow is higher in both the mortgage payment and the PMI. You’ll also pay more interest over time. You’ll save the most by putting more down and reducing the life of the loan to 15 years or fewer even though your monthly payment is higher. Remember that closing costs and moving take a chunk out of your saved-up cash, too.
  • Get pre-approved. Any lender can “pre-qualify” you for a loan, but those aren’t guaranteed. They’re just an estimate based on your self-reported income and assets. Pre-approval takes more effort, but the numbers accurately reflect the size of the mortgage you qualify for and what you can pay for a house. Find a great real estate agent. Once you’ve set your maximum budget and have a pre-qualification letter, your real estate agent can work with those numbers to find you the perfect home. Make sure you choose a qualified buyer’s agent that represents you, not the seller. You also want someone experienced in helping first-time buyers. Typically, the seller covers all the agent’s commissions, so you’re getting their expertise for free!
  • Discover the right neighborhood for you. Buying the right house in the wrong neighborhood leads to buyer’s remorse and dissatisfaction. You need to decide what you want in the neighborhood, not just the house. Do you need playgrounds? A school your child can walk to? Other families nearby? Culs-de-sac instead of through-streets? All of these are important to consider before making a decision.
  • Lock down the house. When you know where you want to live and find a house there, don’t fudge when making an offer. With the guidance of your agent, submit a solid offer that the seller respects and will consider, but leave room to negotiate. When you receive a counteroffer, consider it carefully and request concessions such as asking the seller to leave the appliances or furnishings. Your offer is legally binding, so you want to take care with what you include.
  • Know what to expect once you get the keys. In addition to your monthly payments of principal and interest, property taxes, insurance, and HOA dues, owning a home brings other costs. These include ongoing maintenance, repairs, lawn care and landscaping. If your new home is considerably larger than where you currently live, you’ll also have increased utility costs to factor into the mix.

If you’ve worked your way through the first items on the list and you’re ready to find the right real estate agent, reach out today.




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