Real estate is one of the driving forces of the Martha’s Vineyard economy. The Martha’s Vineyard asked writer Karla Araujo to speak to several real estate professionals about their business. This is the fourth in a series of question and answer conversations.
Q: What are some common misconceptions about the real estate business on Martha’s Vineyard?
Lisa Stewart, owner/broker, Lighthouse Properties: I think that sellers often think that they should price their properties high in order to build in a negotiating pad. But data shows unequivocally that properties will sell close to their asking price. If you price too high, the property will sit until you adjust the price to what its true current value really is. On the other hand, buyers often think that every seller is in dire need of selling their home. But many sellers have owned their properties for more than five years and have earned lots of appreciation in value.They may not have to sell and may not want to lose what they’ve gained, [by selling] in a down market.
Neal Stiller, broker/office manager, Cronig’s Real Estate: I think many people across the U.S. think that the Island is unaffordable. But nowadays you can get something decent here in the $350,000 to $400,000 price range. It’s more affordable than you’d think. Another misconception is held by many sellers. They want to list their home based on ideas from friends, relatives, or neighbors, not necessarily educated in the current market. It hasn’t been a seller’s market in several years, so they may have unrealistic expectations.
Leslie Pearlson, co-owner/broker, Tea Lane Associates: I think that sometimes a seller can have misconceptions about the selling process that can make them uncomfortable or lead to a feeling of distrust. Find an agency that makes you feel comfortable and makes you feel that you’re directing the process and have a driving role. If you want to make something happen, know all the factors in the market. It will make you feel more knowledgeable and less anxious.
Art Smadbeck, partner/broker, Priestley Smadbeck and Mone Real Estate: I think that some buyers are under the misconception that they can’t find all the listings you want to see in one place. But with the LINK system, you can see everything listed by anyone and you can do it anonymously online. Most real estate company websites have a link to the system.
Alan Schweikert, owner/broker, Ocean Park Realty: A lot of people have skepticism about Island builders. They’ve heard that they should “watch out for them.” But there are plenty of very good builders on the Island. Remember, if a builder treats people poorly over time his reputation will go down rapidly. Bad business people don’t stay in business for long on a small Island. Some people also think that Island properties can have title problems. But Massachusetts has a land court and a good attorney can have any title perfected if there are concerns.
Judy Federowicz, Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate: Often second-home buyers feel that their personal off-Island bank will offer the best options for financing. They don’t realize that our Island banks understand the market and offer very competitive products.
Q: How should a potential home buyer approach the process of buying a house on Martha’s Vineyard?
Lisa Stewart, Lighthouse Properties:
Your broker can provide access to the LINK system so that you can get details of properties for sale. Cull through those properties and weigh the pros and cons of each. You’ll learn a lot about value by staying educated during the months you’re searching for the right home.
Neal Stiller, Cronig’s:
Try to have your search narrowed down. Be clear about what you really want. Establish a price range because that can help dictate possible location. If you can’t spend more than $500,000, for instance, that eliminates Chilmark and Aquinnah. Think about what size house you need — do you enjoy guests? Have a large family? Want to rent the property out to larger groups?
Leslie Pearlson, Tea Lane Associates:
It’s still a buyer’s market now although there is increased activity and people are developing more confidence again. You’ll want to touch and feel a lot of properties. See a lot of homes. That way you’ll feel more certainty when you find the right choice and you might also find that you’ll consider properties that you didn’t think you’d consider when you started out. A lot of buyers are surprised by the Island’s different niches.
Art Smadbeck, Priestley Smadbeck & Mone:
Get a recommendation for a broker from someone you know and trust. Buyers are entitled to representation in today’s market. Listing brokers represent sellers, not buyers. It’s vital for a buyer to acquire representation and it doesn’t cost anything. Beyond that, interview a few brokers. Examine their personal style and pick the best match to your own. All brokers have access to the same information through the LINK system, so find one you can feel comfortable with.
Alan Schweikert, Ocean Park:
Try to get a referral from someone you know who has worked with a broker in the past. Contact two or three brokers. Look at their websites. Talk to them on the phone. Discuss your needs. Do they send you helpful information? How do they treat you? Get comfortable with the person. If you’re buying in a specific town you’ve already identified, choose a broker there.
Judy Federowicz, Coldwell Banker Landmarks:
Identify your budget. Get pre-approved, not just pre-qualified, for a mortgage. That way you’ll know exactly what your purchase price range is.