Questions I am asked: Is a personal check acceptable payment at closing?

Generally, no.  The funds for closing on real estate need to be "cleared funds" and this can create confusion for buyers.  These "cleared funds" are different than most transactions that people are accustomed to making.

Two considerations about funds for closing are 1) how will you deliver the cleared funds?  and 2) where will you obtain the cleared funds?

First, How will you deliver the cleared funds?  The funds are typically delivered to the closing attorney by a "bank check" or by wire.  A bank check can be called several different things: a certified check, a bank check, a cashier's check.  The point of this type of check is that the bank looks in your account, sees that you have the cleared funds available and sets that money aside to cover this check.  This check is considered as valid as cash. 

Otherwise, a simple method can be to wire the funds to the attorney.  In the same manner, the bank verifies that you have cleared funds and wires the money directly to the closing attorney's account.  

There can be complications.  If a buyer cannot walk into a local bank to obtain the bank check, then the money should be transferred to a local bank or wired to the attorney.  Some banks will not allow funds to be wired to an account that is not owned by the buyer.  This is crucial to verify in advance if a buyer is planning to wire closing funds to the attorney.

Second, what are these cleared funds.  Most people are familiar with transferring money between their local accounts and online accounts and expect these funds to be available within 2-3 days or less.  However, this is generally not the case with large sums of money, nor securities being sold.  A common transfer that a buyer does from a Capital One 360 Account or Ally Bank account to a local account takes 2-3 weeks to "clear" and be available as cleared funds.  This is true for a transfer from any bank to another.  "Cleared Funds" is not the same as transferring $100 and seeing it show up in the destination account the next day.

If a security is being sold, and the proceeds transferred, this can add another week or more to the process.

We cannot stress to buyers enough to plan in advance for how the closing funds will arrive at closing.  Allow 5-6 weeks for money to be transferred, and more for international accounts.

 

I have never thought I could believe a black sink (or black toilet) was clean.

Apartment Therapy Revisits the Black Sink....like many trends today that are identified as "new", this is reborn from the 1980s.... I have always looked askance at black sinks and toilets, just not feeling like they could ever seem clean to me.  The sparkle of white porcelain fixtures, born early last century, broadcast a (delightfully, in my opinion) antiseptic quality to places that harbored so many germs.

Here's the opinion from Apartment Therapy:

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How to evaluate investment properties

There is no one "perfect" investment property. Different properties will yield different returns and investors will have different goals at different times in their lives.  One mnemonic to help explore investment value is IDEAL.  

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IDEAL

What is the IDEAL investment property?

I - Income - Many investors look at the income a property produces today and call that the "return".  This property costs $1M, it produces $70k gross income or $40k net income and that is the return.  This investor may look to maximize this cash flow at the expense of other considerations.

D - Depreciation - Depreciation is a key benefit of investment properties.  Depreciation produces tax benefits, however the tax benefits vary based on the tax bracket of the investor.  Depreciation also becomes a less valuable part of an investment the longer that an investor owns a property due to inflation and eventually it times out.

E - Equity - Investors look at the equity in a property in various ways, but sometimes fail to manage this equity as part of the overall return.  Our advice to clients is to manage this equity like any other piece of their portfolio and position the equity to generate a reasonable return.

A - Appreciation - An increase in value of a property is a key reason to invest in real estate.  Many properties, over the long term, do increase in value.  We encourage our clients to consider appreciation within the context of other gains.  Buying a property only for its future appreciation is speculation, and could be considered similar to buying speculative stocks.  It is crucial, however, to consider the potential appreciation of one property compared to another in making investment evaluations.  There is also the potential of properties to lose value, and some are more likely than others to lose value in the short term.

L - Leverage - The lending and tax environment make investment properties potentially much more profitable than they appear at first glance.  

Various properties will perform better in some areas and not as well in others.  We use this "IDEAL" tool to help investors see investment properties as a multidimensional choice with more than one opportunity to generate returns.

Questions I am asked: Isn't a $700 (or $2000 or $4000) condo fee really expensive?

As with many answers.....it depends.

A $700 condo fee might be high in a market of condos where the typical fee is $200.  However, if a typically $200 -fee-unit doesn't include heat or elevator, but the $700-fee unit does, that doesn't really sound that high.

How could a condo fee be $2000?  A condo fee of $1500/2000/2500 and more is a typical range of fees for a luxury building and tends to include more amenities and services.  The handful of items that immediately take a condo fee into the $1000 plus range would be elevator, garage parking, and staff....where staff not only means a professional management company, but a doorman, concierge, maintenance people or valets.  A $2500 condo fee includes an amount of exacting attention that clients won't find in $700-fee units.

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Four Seasons $3412

Condo Fee for 1601sf unit

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Mandarin Oriental $4202

Condo fee for 1590sf unit.

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The Ritz $2402

Condo fee for 1343sf unit

Are there really condo fees at $4000 and more?  Well, yes, there are.  Boston condo fees can be in the $4000-6000 range and a bit more.  The higher fees are typically synonymous with extraordinary staff and service and are concentrated in the hotel buildings, the Mandarin Oriental, the Four Seasons, the Ritz, and the W and expect to set new heights at the new Four Seasons coming to One Dalton.  A recent Globe article points to $15,000 condo fees at One Dalton.

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The New Four Seasons $15,000?

Condo fees at One Dalton may set new records.