Kathy & Terry Sullivan

Kathy: 978-927-9199


RE/MAX Advantage Real Estate
Boston's North Shore, Essex County MA

Offices: Beverly, Gloucester, Marblehead, Peabody, Salem MA

Luxury Homes Waterfront Properties Condos
Multi Family Investment Properties Land All MLS

Judith Coughlin


Buyer Specialist
RE/MAX Advantage Real Estate, Beverly, Marblehead, Salem, Peabody, Gloucester, MA

What's Trending Now In Real Estate


What's Trending Now in Real Estate

The spring selling season is in full swing. Here's a breakdown of what you and your clients need to know about the state of the housing market.

Home prices are surging

Price growth is only increasing, due to a lack of inventory in some markets. According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist "Insufficient supply appears to be hampering prospective buyers in several areas of the country and is hiking prices to near unsuitable levels." Buyers in many areas need to be prepared for an increased amount of competition due to low housing inventory this spring.

Mortgage rates hold steady

30-year fixed rate mortgages remain at 3.7 percent, but that is likely to change. "Low mortgage rates are a welcome sign for those in the market to buy a home this spring season and will help to support homebuyer affordability," says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac. 

Sellers are needed

It continues to be a seller's market, as total housing inventory at the end of February increased just 1.6 percent to 1.89 million existing homes available for sale. For the second month in a row, unsold inventory is at a 4.6-month supply, below what is considered normal for a healthy market.

Buyers want move-in-ready properties

Despite the low housing inventory, buyers are picky about the condition of properties for sale and expect homes to be move-in-ready. "Buyers don’t want to assume any risk with properties that need work, particularly first-time buyers with limited cash resources," says Budge Huskey, chief executive officer at Coldwell Banker Real Estate.

Foreclosures keep slipping

After peaking in 2006, foreclosures are returning to significantly low levels across the country. "Given that August 2006 was the peak of the housing bubble, this eight-and-a-half year low in foreclosure activity is a significant milestone and a sign that nationwide foreclosure activity is on track to return to historic norms this year," says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

Investor slowdown

Competition between regular buyers and investors is decreasing. Home prices are getting so high that the share of home sales to investor clients recently reached a four year low.

Buying: it's cheaper than renting

A recent study from NAR found that rents are on the rise in many parts of the country. "In the past five years, a typical rent rose 15 percent while the income of renters grew by only 11 percent," says Yun. A recent study also showed that renters are spending around 30 percent of their wages on rent, compared to homebuyers who spend below 15 percent of their wages on mortgage payments.

A focus on first-time buyers

New programs from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seek to make it easier for first-time borrowers to buy a home. They recently introduced 3 percent down payment mortgages-- the first time down payments have been this low on Freddie Mac loans in nearly five years. Besides this, Freddie Mac launched the "Our Home Possible Advantage Program", which is aimed at supporting first-time buyers by allowing no minimum from borrowers in contributions, which means that parents or relatives now can cover 100 percent of the down payment through gifts.

Going green

Millennial clients are providing the push for home builders to downsize. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the average size of a new home is 10 percent less than the typical home five years ago. Younger clients are leading the push for green and energy efficient homes, according to a recent study by NAR.

Source: "9 Real Estate Trends to Watch in 2015," The Fiscal Times (March 27, 2015)

RE/MAX Network Reaches 100,000 Agents


Today, the RE/MAX network topped 100,000 in worldwide agent count. It's an incredible moment in our 42-year history. And in reality, it's much more than that.

The fact that thousands of top producers keep joining our organization is fantastic news for every Affiliate. New members add their productivity, customer base, reputations and individual talents to the network. That brings more listings, more yard signs, more advertising, more brand power, more phone calls, more Internet traffic, more referrals and more satisfied clients. The cycle continues on, as even greater results attract even more Associates.

That's our foundation and history, as meaningful now as it ever was.

So at a milestone like this, I hope everyone in RE/MAX takes a minute to celebrate what we've created together: the greatest real estate network in the world. 

Gail and I want to thank every member of this amazing organization – wherever you are and whatever your role. Your talent and hard work has made this achievement possible. You've created a brand like no other in the industry, and you've built a team that others want to be part of.

Thank you! This accomplishment is yours! 

View the press release.



Dave Liniger
RE/MAX CEO & Chairman 

Waiting To Buy Could Cost You

Waiting To Buy Could Cost You!

Time or a move-up buyer, there are two factors that will impact the amount of house you can afford in your price range: home prices & mortgage rates. Let’s look at what the experts are predicting over the next twelve months for these two areas:

Over 100 economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists were recently polled as a part of the Home Price Expectation Survey. They were asked to project where home prices are headed. The average value appreciation projected over the next twelve-month period is approximately 4.4%.

In the latest Economic & Housing Market Outlook from Freddie Mac, they predict that the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will be 4.7% by this time next year. As of last week, the Freddie Mac rate was 3.69%.

What does this mean to you?
If you are a first-time buyer currently looking at a home priced at $250,000, this is what it could cost you on a monthly basis if you wait until next year to buy you are a move-up buyer currently looking at a home priced at $500,000, this is what it could cost you on a monthly basis if you wait a year to buy:

Keeping Current Matters http://goo.gl/ztt3kF


How Solar Panels Can Kill A Sale

Solar Panels Can be a Deal Killer

Studies have suggested that the addition of solar panels on a home can boost a home's value. But sometimes those solar panels can sabotage a deal when it comes time to sell.

More companies are offering home owners a contract to lease solar panels where they pay no upfront costs for the installation and could start saving on their electricity bills right away. But home owners who sign onto these deals are finding some snags when they go to sell.

Potential buyers are leery of taking on the leasing payment contracts for the next 15 to 17 years because they often have to qualify on credit from the solar companies themselves. Also, some buyers are hesitant to sign a contract because they're concerned the solar equipment will become obsolete or won't amount in a big savings in the end after paying the leasing fee.

Some home buyers are refusing to buy the house unless the seller buys out of the remaining lease payment stream -- which could be $15,000 or more.

Source: "Leased Solar Panels Can Complicate – or Kill – a Home Sale," The Los Angeles Times

MA Unemployment Rate for Feb Drops To 4.9%


BOSTON, MA -March 19, 2015 

MA unemployment rate drops to 4.9% from 5.1% in Jan and 6.0% in Feb 2014. The labor participation rate, the share of working age residents employed, rose to 65.9% up 0.3% from Jan and up 1% from a year ago.  There were 3,430,500 residents employed and 177,300 unemployed in Feb. 


3% Down For First Time Home Buyers - Fannie and Freddie


3% Down Payments For First Time Home Buyers


Mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced Monday that first-time home buyers can now qualify for loans with down payments as low as 3 percent. That will expand credit for qualified home shoppers who may have been sidelined the last few years because of higher down-payment requirements, housing analysts say.

Freddie Mac launched Home Possible Advantage, a conventional mortgage with a 3 percent down-payment requirement geared to low- and moderate-income borrowers. It's a conforming conventional mortgage with a maximum loan-to-value ratio of 97 percent. To qualify, first-time home buyers are required to participate in a borrower education program.

With Fannie Mae's 3 percent down-payment offering, borrowers must still meet standard eligibility requirements, including underwriting, income documentation, and risk management standards. Any buyer can take advantage of Fannie's loans as long as at least one co-borrower is a first-time buyer. The loans will require private mortgage insurance.

"Our goal is to help additional qualified borrowers gain access to mortgages," says Andrew Bon Salle, Fannie Mae executive vice president for single-family underwriting, pricing, and capital markets. "This option alone will not solve all the challenges around access to credit. Our new 97 percent LTV offering is simply one way we are working to remove barriers for creditworthy borrowers to get a mortgage."

The National Association of REALTORS® applauds the move by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie and Freddie.

NAR said in a statement that the action by FHFA demonstrates its "commitment to home ownership by serving creditworthy borrowers who lack the resources for substantial down payments, plus closing costs, with a new 3 percent down-payment program that mitigates risk with strong underwriting. The new program ensures that responsible home buyers will have access to safe, affordable mortgage credit."


Source: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Boston Ranks Third Globally In Office Rent Growth (+12.2%), First in Capital Value Growth (+34.6%)

Boston Ranks Third Globally In Office Rent Growth (+12.2%) and First in Capital Value Growth (+34.6%)
Greater Boston moved up 10 spots to seventh globally in a survey of metro areas' commercial real estate markets and economic vitality.
JLL's 2015 City Momentum Index ranks 120 cities in 37 categories related to the vitality of their economies and commercial real estate markets. The top five cities in this year's index were London, San Jose, Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai.
The Boston area had the third-fastest-growing office rents worldwide in 2014, trailing only Singapore and San Francisco, according to a survey of metro areas by JLL. Rents locally increased 12.2 percent, according to the report.
JLL Strategic Research Director Lori Mabardi said Boston's innovation economy and strong university presence accounted for the city's move up in the rankings.
Boston ranked first globally with a 34.6-percent increase in capital value growth.
Foreign investors drove up prices of the Boston region's commercial real estate, with investors such as Toronto-based Oxford Properties Group and Norges Bank Investment Management buying trophy office buildings in Boston and Cambridge.
The index is designed to identify which cities are changing the fastest by combining real estate data with socioeconomic factors.
Short-term economic variables such as changes in GDP and population, air passenger traffic and corporate headquarters presence represent 40 percent of JLL's model. Short-term commercial real estate measures represent 30 percent of the model. The remaining 30 percent is based upon factors likely to affect future economic strength, including educational infrastructure, patent applications and presence of investment firms.

Rental Population Rises, Pushing Rents Higher. Lack Of Savings Obstacle To Buying



Renters made up the majority of the population in cities at the core of nine of the nation’s 11 largest metro areas in 2013, a sharp change from 2006, when renters were the majority in just five of those cities, according to a new report.

Cities have always had a larger number of renters when compared with suburban areas, in part because the cost of owning a home within a city’s limits is out of reach for many residents, especially in high-cost places such as New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

A resulting demand for apartments is rising so fast that it is starting to overwhelm supply in many cities, which is pushing up housing costs nationwide. “As the number of renters grow, if the supply of rental housing does not keep up—as it has not in most of these cities—then vacancy rates will fall, rents will rise, and more renters will struggle with the costs of housing,” said Ingrid Gould Ellen, the Furman Center’s faculty director.

In some cases, the rise in the number of renters reflects a reversion to levels before the housing boom, when easy credit and no-down-payment mortgages allowed many renters to become homeowners. Once the boom turned to bust, people went back to renting, either because they lost their homes to foreclosure or they became skittish about owning. In Chicago, renters made up 53% of the population in 1990, then dropped to 46% at the height of the housing boom in 2006 and returned to 52% in 2013.

In other cases, long-term demographic trends and changing attitudes have diminished the appeal of the traditional American dream of homeownership. In Houston, just 41% of the population were renters in 1970. The rate rose to 51% by 2000 then declined slightly during the housing boom before starting to rise again, hitting 54% in 2013.

But for many, slow income growth and a lack of savings are the main reasons for renting instead of buying, even as mortgage rates remain historically low. Accumulating savings has become even more difficult as rents rise in many cities. Rents outpaced inflation in all of the 11 cities except for Dallas and Houston, where they remained largely flat, according to the NYU-Capital One report. Rents rose the most in Washington, D.C., over the seven-year period, with a 21% increase in the median rent when adjusted for inflation.

For full article go to:  http://goo.gl/dcHJiM

MA December Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.5% from 5.8%; 10,900 Jobs in Dec.

Massachusetts adds 10,900 jobs in December
Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.5%

BOSTON, MA - January 22, 2015 ---  The Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) today reported that preliminary estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show Massachusetts added 10,900 jobs in December for a total preliminary estimate of 3,447,600.  The December total unemployment rate was 5.5 percent, down 0.3 of a percentage point over the month.

Since December 2013, Massachusetts has added a net of 60,900 jobs; with 58,400 jobs added in the private sector. The total unemployment rate for the year is down 1.6 percent from the December 2013 rate of 7.1 percent.

BLS also revised its November job estimate to an 11,700 job gain from the 13,500 gain previously reported for the month.

New Fannie Mae Appraisal Process Will Likely Push Down Appraisal Values


New Fannie Mae Appraisal Program: Helping or Hurting?

Posted: 14 Jan 2015 04:00 AM PST

New Fannie Mae Appraisal Program: Helping or Hurting? | Keeping Current Matters 
Every home must be sold TWICE! Once to the buyer, and once to the bank appraiser if a mortgage is involved.


The second sale may have just become more difficult.

A new program announced by Fannie Mae may slow down the home-sale closing process by causing more disputes over prices between sellers and buyers. In a recent Washington Post article they explained the basics of the program:
“Starting Jan. 26, Fannie plans to offer mortgage lenders access to proprietary home valuation databases that they can use to assess the accuracy and risks posed by the reports submitted by appraisers.”  “The Fannie data will flag possible errors in the appraiser’s work before the lender commits to fund the loan, will score the appraisal for overall risk of inaccuracy and may provide as many as 20 alternative “comps” — properties in the area that have sold recently and are roughly comparable to the house the lender is considering for financing but were not used by the appraiser.”
Using the additional information provided by Fannie Mae, the lender can then ask for an explanation from the appraisal company for any discrepancies and request an amended appraisal. This added step in the process of determining the price of the home to be bought/sold, could add time to the closing process and cost to the appraisal for the additional work.


Why is this happening?

Fannie Mae wants lenders to make informed decisions when agreeing to the amount of a loan that a buyer will be approved for.
“Excessive valuations create the risk of future losses to lenders and investors if the borrower defaults and the house goes to foreclosure.”


What is the process now?

As a seller:

You’ve put your house on the market, picked an agent who has helped you determine that the best price to list your home for is $250,000, and found a buyer willing to pay that price. The appraiser comes to the home and agrees your home is worth the asking price and writes their report. Everything is working perfectly!


As a buyer:

You’ve found your dream home, in the right neighborhood, in the right school district, with the perfect yard, at the high end of your budget, but all the pluses are worth it. You agree on a price and start daydreaming about living in your new home.


What happens after January 26th?

The lender submits the appraisal report to the new Fannie Mae program and they come back with “lower-risk comps” that value the home at $230,000. The lender then turns to the appraisal company to justify the $20,000 difference, adding time and frustration to the process. If the lender does not agree with the reasons for the price difference they will not lend the buyer the amount they need to purchase their dream home and the amicable, agreeable sale turns into a heated justification of the higher price. The buyer may even have to give up on the home if the funding isn’t there. An article by Housing Wire shares the appraiser’s point of view:
“The bottom line, appraisers say, is this could lead to delays to closings and higher costs, as well as a depression of prices in markets where prices are rising. Appraisers complain that if they have to justify every step of their comps for their valuation, rather than those coming from the one-size-fits-all evaluation from Fannie, it will delay closing, throw off buyer and seller timetables, and delay real estate broker commissions.”


Bottom Line

The fear of some real estate practitioners is that if appraisers feel as though they are constantly being second-guessed, they may become more conservative in their assessments, impacting home values and slowing growth in the market.