Georgia Pye was recently named president of the South Shore real estate association. Pye was a founding member of the Duxbury Education Foundation and is active with Pilgrim Church. She and her husband Jim, also a real estate agent, are long-time Duxbury residents. Georgia Pye was recently named president of the South Shore real estate association. Pye was a founding member of the Duxbury Education Foundation and is active with Pilgrim Church. She and her husband Jim, also a real estate agent, are long-time Duxbury residents.
1) What is PASS? PASS is the Plymouth and South Shore Association of Realtors. It is the professional association for over 2400 Realtors who are practicing residential and commercial real estate between Quincy and the Cape Cod Canal. The association provides educational programming for members in all areas of real estate.
2) Is the sub-prime lending mess affecting South Shore real estate? The sub-prime meltdown is affecting all aspects of real estate in our area. Lenders have tightened credit requirements significantly so prospective buyers have even more hoops to get through in the buying process. Even highly qualified buyers are being scrutinized more closely. Buyers with more serious credit issues may find they can no longer obtain a loan. We have shifted from a situation where just about everyone could qualify for a loan to a more restrictive circumstance.
3) Have home prices in Massachusetts bottomed-out yet? There are a number of variables that affect the answer to this question. The larger home inventory that was available last year has moderated so supply and demand are more in proportion now. Interest rates have recently dropped, always a plus for the market. Buyers are still hesitant about making a commitment, however. First-time buyers are worried about over-paying and want to wait to see how the market is trending. Buyers who want to move up to a larger home or a new town, have a house to sell first. Houses currently on the market in Duxbury have been for sale an average of 207 days, definitely a longer market time than a few years ago. Some economists are predicting that prices will bottom in about six months. They cite that the job market is still strong, but consumer confidence is an important factor for real estate sales. Buyers need to feel confident about a period of time ahead to make a big purchase decision.
4) What's the top reason people cite when moving to Duxbury? Quality of life is the definite factor in buyers’ decisions to choose Duxbury. That “quality” encompasses the schools and their excellent reputation, the fact we have so many amenities available to residents, the attractiveness of our town, the open space and the small-town friendliness of our residents. One client had gone to Town Hall before contacting me to look at property. He was so impressed with how nice everyone had been to him that he was sold on the town even before we talked.
5) How do for-sale-by-owner trends affect your industry? Even with the Internet and so many options available to sellers, the vast majority of residential sales still involve a Realtor. Statistically and historically, sellers do better in both sales price and time on market when they use a Realtor. The process of buying and selling real estate has gotten even more complex through the years. There are serious consumer protection issues like Title 5, lead paint, zoning, buyer disclosure requirements to name a few that require experience and background knowledge. Also, comparative price analysis and negotiation can be stumbling blocks for sellers who wish to sell on their own. Realtors work with these issues every day and have a wealth of experience to draw on to deal with whatever comes up in a transaction.
6) What's a Realtor's biggest gripe about a client? I would say the biggest gripe is that clients can sometimes refuse to think about or follow their Realtor’s advice. There are many pitfalls in purchasing property. Housing is a very personal matter and it is sometimes difficult for a client to be entirely objective when they love a particular house. Realtors feel an obligation to share their opinions, their reservations and alert clients to potential pitfalls for certain properties. None of us likes to say, “I told you so!” I recently had a client refuse to use a professional home inspector, much against my advice and counsel, and much to the client’s detriment. It was frustrating.
7) What are the top attributes buyers look for in a new home? I always tell clients that choosing a house is a “head and heart” decision. In purchasing a home, the client needs to make sure the property meets all the rational criteria of structure, condition, price, size and features. But there also has to be that emotional component for buyers to know they will love living there. Houses do have personalities and there needs to be congruency for buyer and house. Prospective buyers in all price ranges pay particular attention to baths, kitchen, master bedroom, garage, landscaping. Overall condition is crucial and eye appeal is very important.
8) What advice would you give to someone looking to get into the industry? Get every bit of education you can! Massachusetts has only a rudimentary requirement in the way of class time and licensing exam standards. Other states have much higher standards and requirements. To do a good job for your clients, your level of knowledge is crucial.
9) How serious is the affordable housing issue in Duxbury? Smart Growth is a very hot topic in real estate generally right now. Research has shown a strong connection between available affordable housing for entry-level workers and the economic health and price appreciation for existing real estate in an area. If there is not enough affordable housing available in an area, entry-level buyers are precluded from settling and over time there is no one to move up the housing chain. Gradually, there is a decline in real estate values overall. Duxbury is a desirable community. We have thus seen a major run up in price appreciation for real estate. There is only a small amount of property available at any given time below $400,000. This market factor does tend to skew the town’s socioeconomic demographics.
10) What real estate trends do you see on the horizon in 2008? Although the high cost of land has tended to drive up the cost and the size of houses in our area, I think the trend towards bigger houses will slow. The increasing cost of utilities and people’s growing awareness of the environmental impact will encourage new home construction to head towards smaller and “greener” structures. There are phenomenal materials available now for construction of stronger buildings structurally, but drawing on renewable resources with much higher efficiency and lower costs. I think the trend towards more comfort and luxury features in homes will continue. High tech features are also a growing consideration. More “smart” houses, with many of the operating systems controlled by computers, will be built
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