Mortgage shake down

Posted In:
October 7, 2013

Rates, rates, rates!

Unless you’re lucky enough to be a cash buyer, most of us have to get financing when purchasing a property. Naturally, rates area always a hot topic of conversation when starting your search. Getting a pre-approval is usually the best way to start so that you can know what you can reasonably afford to spend. Depending upon where the lending market it at can make or break how much you can afford to spend.  Over the last few years the rates have plummeted which has helped contribute to a “buyers market.” For the last year or so we’ve been hovering in the mid 3% on a 30 year fixed rate. This is a historically low rate which has sparked a lot more buyers to enter the market. When it’s inexpensive to borrow money, more people do it!

Great chart showing rates over the last 30 years.

When borrowing money is at an 18% interest rate, the amount at which you borrow drops dramatically. As the summer progressed and more and more sales were taking place the interest rates took a quick jump into the 4.75% range which made buyers nervous this was the end of low interest rates. As the market continued to progress the lack of inventory and more buyers trying to get into houses forced the prices of homes up further. As of right now, rates are back down to 4.2% and prices are stabilizing. Sales however have not seemed to slow down as they traditionally do heading into the fall.

We’ll have to wait and see how the year concludes!

Beautiful Brick Mansions!

July 22, 2013

Brick, ahhhh.

I was just in Chattanooga, Tennessee for my beautiful cousins wedding. It was a wonderful weekend filled with amazing events and a lot of love. The South is certainly a different world then the North Land that I reside in, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, my southern People!

This wedding was full of spectacular events, the first of which was a “Welcome to Chattanooga” BBQ hosted by a family friend of the bride. I arrived via cab after flying in from Boston to find a GORGEOUS Brick Mansion, overflowing with smiling faces, gathered around a Keg…hello AMAZING, I’ve found heaven.

The house was TO DIE FOR, classic brick, large, well decorated with high ceilings and big open spaces. I didn’t get any interior photos because I was attempting to avoid being the trashy northern cousin who looked like she had never been in a nice house before (although, I REALLY REALLY wanted to snap pics because we know i’m obsessed with houses). But I did grab a couple of the outside:

Back side of the house. Love the roof line and the white trim with the brick.

Back side of the house. Love the roof line and the white trim with the brick.

Front entrance (sorry for the bad quality photo, I was a few beers deep at that point).

Front entrance (sorry for the bad quality photo, I was a few beers deep at that point).

When I got home to Boston I was really channeling my inner Southern Woman. I started researching some of the brick houses Massachusetts had to offer. Since we have a lot of history and historic homes here in New England I wanted to get a feel on prices of the brick mansion of my dreams, you know, for future reference. (Dear Mom & Dad, where the F is my Trust Fund? It’s ok, I grew up to be normal, you can give it to me NOW). 🙂

Property located at 11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA. Listed at : $10,500.00 Listed By:   Carolyn King,  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Weston

Property located at 11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA. Listed at : $10,500.00 Listed By: Carolyn King, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Weston


11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA $10,500.00

11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA

11 Dellbrook Rd. Weston, MA

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00 List agent: Jill Boudreau Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Wellesley - Central St.

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00

147 Main Street, Hingham, MA  List Price: $2,950,000 Listing Agent:   Martha Gentry, Hammond Residential

147 Main Street, Hingham, MA List Price: $2,950,000 Listing Agent: Martha Gentry, Hammond Residential

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00 List agent:  Jill Boudreau  Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Wellesley - Central St.

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00 List agent: Jill Boudreau Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Wellesley - Central St.

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley

200 Pond Rd. Wellsley Georgian Colonial on 9 Acres. List Price: $6,950,000.00

147 Main St. Hingham, MA

147 Main St. Hingham, MA

And then there is my end all and be ALL, bananas house crush. I grew up about 3 miles from this house and always would drive by it with my friends. In college during the summer I worked at the restaurant that the owners of this house also owned (located right across the water way). In the winter they have every tree on their property covered in white lights and it looks like a fairy tale. This place is so huge, their guest house is twice the size of my parent house. It’s legit:

49 Margin Street, Cohasset, MA

List price: 22,000,000.00

Listing Agent: Jonathan Radford, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. Newbury St. Boston

Brick covered in Ivy.

Brick covered in Ivy.

Aerial View

Aerial View

You get a private doc into Cohasett Harbor.

You get a private doc into Cohasett Harbor.

Back yard

Back yard

The only interior shot that I actually like. I'd have to gut this entire place. Shheesshhh totally unlivable in current condition! ;)

The only interior shot that I actually like… Honestly, I’d have to gut this entire place. Shheesshhh totally unlivable in current condition! 😉

North End 1 bed, MUST HAVE!

July 17, 2013

The spring/summer market here in Boston has been out of control, literally INSANITY. I’ve been working my A$$ off to keep up with all my clients needs because as many of you know, this industry is feast or famine and you have to stay engaged when it’s busy.

I’ve been working with a a fabu couple in the North End of Boston (“Little Italy” of Boston). They really want something different and not your typical square, white walls, box, condo. Granted the North End has plenty of AMAZING and unique property, but it’s usually really effing expensive, and/or it’s a dump in a basement that smells like dead people.

Last night we saw a beautiful Penthouse condo on Fulton Street. 1bed/2baths, listed at $679,000.00, condo fees are $465.00 per month and taxes are $6292.00 (welcome to Boston, you’re now poor off taxes). The unit was gorgeous, check out the pictures below that I graciously stole from Otis & Ahearn (listing agent Sean Dacey was great, also a Ginger so he gets bonus points):

Amazing spiral Stair Case

Amazing spiral Stair Case

Great Dining & Reading area.

Great Dining & Reading area.

Living room

Living Room We're still shopping so I'll keep you posted on any other awesome units we check out!

The Spring & Summer… BOOM.

July 17, 2013

And we’re back!

Sorry for the delay, we were having server difficulties and it took me a while to track down my international, jet setting, programmer to fix us! Thankfully he returned from the middle of nowhere and got HOB back up!

The Spring and Summer market has been CRAZY here in Boston and from what I can tell is certainly nation wide. A lot of clients keep asking me if I think this is a “Bubble” with prices sky rocketing back up into “WTF ZONE”. Honestly, it’s hard to tell and I have mixed feelings on our real estate market but have been trying to watch for signs. Personally, I feel despite everyone’s banter over the current political atmosphere, we’re doing alright. Real Estate is up as is Construction which is a sign that the economy as a whole is on the rebound. Hey, it’s not perfect, but it’s certainly a world away from where it was when I opened my own office 2 years ago.  This flux seems to be transcending industries which I think gives us as consumers a renewed sense of stability and people are investing again in real estate.

The lack of inventory really got the Spring market going as there were a lot of new buyers entering the market to take advantage of the ridiculously low interest rates. Simultaneously, there wasn’t a lot of property to choose from… enter… THE PERFECT STORM. Too bad we don’t have George Clooney to chime in about the Real Estate Bubble….

WHY ARE PRICES SO HIGH????!! Even in Gloucester ...GArrrrrr!!!

WHY ARE PRICES SO HIGH????!! Even in Gloucester ...GArrrrrr!!!

Dude, Move to Dorchester, you can't even pretend to be tough and from Savin Hill anymore.

Dude, Move to Dorchester, you can't even pretend to be tough and from Savin Hill anymore.

This “Perfect Storm” gave sellers the ability to list higher than anticipated and end up with a bidding war on their property (and a lot of times getting an over asking price). Over the last 4 months the majority of offers I’ve put in when representing buyers have been multiple-offer situations and many times we have closed over asking price, or we lost out on the property.

Things seemed to have calmed down in this second half of July. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still bat shit crazy out there, but interest rates have increased a point, which is stabilizing list prices.

For example: A single family that Sells for $350,000.00 at a %3.25 interest rate (30 year fixed mortgage), with taxes of say $4,700.00 per year is a $1,920.00 per month payment (not including insurance).

But when that same house is financed at a %4.25 interest rate, the payments increase to $2,120.00.

$200.00 a month may not seem like a lot, but if you’re buying a more expensive house it increases accordingly. One point in interest rates can make the difference between a buyer being able to afford a $350,000.00 house and a buyer being able to only afford a $295,000.00 house. Because of this, sellers are forced to look at pricing their property so that it can get the maximum exposure to potential buyers.

Personally, I think with interest rates increasing, sellers will be forced to become more reasonable with their expectations of selling price and the prices will settle into a more affordable realm, which will remain higher than 12 months ago, but won’t be out of control like we saw in the spring market.

sale pending

Cha CHING! $$

May 26, 2013

So I live in Squantum, MA, which is the most Northern Part of Quincy, MA. Right next to Dorchester, and 5 Miles from Downtown Boston. I effing LOVE this place and have no idea how I managed to live here because the houses fly off the shelves in days. When I go out for jogs I take pictures of random houses that could potentially be something good for a client etc.

Six months ago I was just moving into my new house and was out strolling the neighborhood. I saw this total dump that looked like it was about to be torn down, so naturally, the dump loving woman I am, I took a photo:

parke ave before

Parke Ave. Before

So naturally time progressed and I watched them build a cute house. You know, the classic box house, square, garage, nice front walk way. Cute, nothing extravagant but cute. Being the house stalker that I am I continued to walk by, watch it be built and wonder who my new neighbors would be. I thought it was going to be this couple who I always saw at the property, walking through it etc. But then the house went up on the market For Sale.

FIVE DAYS later, the house is under agreement. What price was it listed at…???


Are you effing with me? REALLY?! 5 Days?! $800K?!! My trailer chic house suddenly looks way more fab.

Pictures from MLS on the new house they built:


Exterior at night


Day time


I LOVE coffered ceilings!




Neutral greys are super popular right now


Cute, but you can get that light fixture at Home Depot for $98.00. I want a nicer one if I'm paying $800K!!


Loving this grey tone

park sale



Double sink Master Bath

Kanye & Kim’s “alleged” new house

May 20, 2013

Rumor has it Kanye West & Kim Kardashian just purchased this love nest for $11,000,000.00 in a gated Bel Air, California community. Condo fees are $903.00 per month, which considering the sale price is pretty cheap. I just sold a $285,000.00 condo with condo fees that were $300.00 per month, so in comparison, Kim is doing pretty good on the condo fees. Their condo fees also include the 24 hour ARMED GUARDS that patrol the gated community. It’s brand new construction  has 5 bedrooms, 6.5 baths, and rounds out at a pathetic 37,000 square feet (just for a point of reference, THE WHITE HOUSE is 55,000 square feet). This house is gargantuan, which is probably a good choice considering you’d have to live in it with Kanye West and a screaming child, which are basically one in the same. Here’s the address if you want to Google Map it :11790 SOUTHAMPTON Ct, Bel Air, CA 90077.  

What a dump.


Back of the house




Personally, I'd pick a lighter granite. But Personally, I don't have 11 million.


My Grandma called she wants her kitchen vent back. Woof.


Ok that head board is ridiculous.


Beautiful floors


Living room




For 11 million, you'd think you'd get a little more land and privacy from the neighbors.



New Listing!

Posted In:
May 20, 2013

I just listed a new house in Plymouth, MA. Yep, Pilgrim Central! However, if you’ve never been to Plymouth let me be the first to tell you: This place ROCKS! (I didn’t mean that to be a pun about Plymouth Rock, but I guess it turned out that way, so just go with it). Anyways, the center is super cute! Awesome restaurants, bars, shops, water views, like really cute. (I even got my first unapproved by parents piercing there, so it holds a special place in my teenage heart).

The house is a Raised Ranch, which usually aren’t my favorite, but this one is actually really desirable because the lay out is much more conducive to an entertaining lifestyle. I like ranches that when you walk in don’t have the closed hallway stairs. This one is totally open and invites you in. I could see an awesome holiday party happening here, plus the yard is IDEAL for a BBQ. It features a finished basement, 3 bathrooms, porch, 2 fireplaces, nice yard and it’s at the end of a cul-de-sack. Moms love the cul-de-sack, so tell your mom friends. I won’t bore you will an assortment of details you can find on MLS. So here are a few pics for fun.


Front of the house, Love the Yellow.






Back, with Porch!


I HAD TO POST THIS! Easy to paint over, but borderline AMAZING (for a haunted house party?) That is one BAD trip.



Coffered Ceilings to DIE for

May 20, 2013

I have recently become insanely obsessed with Coffered ceilings. They are an element that really brings an entire room together. They’re a perfect mix of design esthetic and cozy home feel. Coffered ceilings can come in a series of patterns and have been around since the ancient Greeks and Romans (who made theirs with stone).  Today you can have jaw dropping ceilings in a contemporary or country home; I mean these things work ANYWHERE.


Looking fabulous in the kitchen!


Sexy Orange...MEOW!




Sort of romantic/Gothic...I'm into


I just sold this super cute house in Quincy, MA. Loving the living room!


Beachy Fab!




Rarr, very sexy.


And I just stopped breathing.



I bought a dump!

May 20, 2013

For as long as I can remember I wanted to own my own house. I’m not into drugs, but I might as well be, because I look at real estate like a crack smoking , street walker…Can’t get enough…MORE, MORE, MORE, NOW! So when the day came that I closed on my first house, I was so excited I sweat through my brand new Calvin Klein dress bought specifically for the occasion, pounded 6 cups of coffee (not an exaggeration), go lost 3 times going to the registry of deeds I had been to multiple times before, and puked in my mouth a little. Needless to say it was one of the best days of my life. Seriously, AMAZING. I had worked so hard for that day and it was finally here. I signed the papers, grabbed the keys and ran to my new house.

Having worked in real estate for a while I knew the “buy the worst house in the best neighborhood” lecture pretty well , because I gave it to my clients on a weekly basis. Taking my own advice, I negotiated the price down on the cheapest house in my DREAM neighborhood to what was a ridiculously good deal so I was pretty confident in my decision even though I knew there were things I had to fix.

It’s funny how when you’re shopping around at houses you see all the good things, but the day it becomes yours you suddenly realize all the flaws (kind of like boyfriends, really perfect, until they’re yours, every day).  So when I walked up to the front of my new fab-pad, and the front door literally broke off, I thought it was probably just a lucky sign of how smart I was in purchasing this house.

It seemed odd when I walked into the front porch that everything looked more crooked than I remembered it at the walk through. Closet doors seemed off their hinges, shelves were slightly off, and what I thought were “beautiful hardwood floors” were floors that hadn’t been refinished since the year I was conceived.

I didn’t have time for “buyers remorse” and besides, this is what I do, so no regrets here.  But I had to evaluate how I hadn’t noticed cracks in the ceiling and separated beams just the morning before. Was I losing my mind? Perhaps… but seriously?  And then it occurred to me, the first earthquake in 100 years had just happened in Massachusetts two days prior! And suddenly it occurred to me that my 1903 salt box, bungalow had seen better days.

Let the project-ing begin! Stay tuned, but for now, enjoy (and by “enjoy” I mean “cringe at”) some “before” pictures:

Parke ave before

My nasty bathroom... oh dear.

blog 1 kitchen

Kitchen, kind of yuck, but i've seen worth.

blog 1 laundry

I hate laundry, this room isn't helping with that.

blog 1 floors

Pristine hardwood floors!

blog 1 front of house

Trailer Chic?

blog1 floors

Don't even get me started!

blog 1 closet

Right after the 100 year earth quake. My closet totally busted...AWESOME!





House of Birch!

Posted In:
May 15, 2013

Welcome to HOUSE OF BIRCH! We’re glad to have you here. I started this blog as a way to discuss my sick obsession with Real Estate, Construction and Design. When I started working in real estate I was always looking for unique articles to feed my drug like addiction, but found most real estate blogs to be, well… terrible. So here at House of Birch we take a more glamorous approach to everything real estate related in hopes of avoiding the inevitable eyes glazing over while reading about the legal ramifications of security deposits and property lines. Thank you for visiting!welcome