Posted by Marie Presti on 12/20/2015

Many homes in our area have stories to tell. If you live in an older home, you may want to know its hidden secrets. You may have wondered who slept in your bedroom or when the home was actually built. Your home holds many clues to its history and its prior owners. With some detective work you will be well on your way to uncovering your home's hidden past. Here are some hints to get you started. Gather Information In order to get started you will need to uncover all of the information you have, you will want to gather your deed and title paperwork. Make note of the first owner, year built, and the year the original owner sold it. You will also want to know the names of all the owners, as well as the years they bought and sold the property. All of this information may not be available on your deed but you will be able to find it at town hall or the registry of deeds. You may find clues in the names of owners and years owned. Pay attention to details and look for clues. Some clues to the history of the home may be: a family that owned the home for a long time, multiple property turnovers and inconsistencies in property or land descriptions. Tackling the Records Wading through the mountains of information may be difficult but don't get discouraged. Information about your home’s owners will most likely be contradictory. Census records dating back to the year your house was built are likely available at your public library, a nearby university or your local historical society or museum. Review census rosters from the year closest to the one your house was built. Census records from the 1800s and early 1900s have lots of fun and interesting information and often include the names of all those living in a household at the time, their ages, occupations, places of birth, and sometimes more. You may also want to search for census data on the U.S. Census website. Getting Help Some of the language on deeds and title paperwork can be hard to understand put older language in the mix and it can be even more confusing. Ask friends who are lawyers, title-company employees or experts in historical documents for help. You can also turn to the internet for help. Use the internet to dig up any information you can find about the families who lived in your home, as well as the surrounding streets, neighborhoods, and landmarks. If prior owners of your home are relatives you can use genealogy web sites for research. Getting a Feel for the Times Read through newspapers from the year your house was built. You will start to get a sense of the historical times. Keep notes on everything you find that mentions your house and its occupants. In those times local papers covered social news of all kinds—dinner parties, haying trips, visits from out-of-town relatives—in addition to chronicling everything from world events to weather. They often covered construction of new homes, and may offer you information on where the builders got the materials used to build your house, why they made certain design decisions, and more. More Information For more information regarding researching homes you may want to try some of the books listed. American Shelter: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Home, by Lester Walker, Overlook Press, 1981 How Old is This House? by Hugh Howard, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1989 House Styles in America, by James C. Massey and Shirley Maxwell, Penguin Studio, 1996 Old American House, by Henry Lionel Williams and Ottalie K. Williams, Bonanza Books, 1957 A Field Guide to American Houses, by Virginia and Lee McAlester, Random House, 1984

Posted by Marie Presti on 11/3/2015

All In a Day’s Work: Solving Real-Life, Real Estate Problems for Our Clients Problem: Our clients’ must-have-list read like this: new construction, four bedrooms, a wow-worthy kitchen, a barn (to function as an entertainment hub), and a large lot — quite a challenge considering they were looking in the $750,000 range and didn’t want to be too far from Boston. Solution: Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither are dream homes on a budget. We were upfront with our clients that it was unlikely they’d get everything on their list, but that we would strive to get as close as possible.  We found a home in Wayland that had some of what they were looking for, but it was only a three-bedroom. We identified a first-floor room that could be used as a fourth bedroom, but unfortunately, the septic system couldn’t accommodate an additional bedroom. We had an idea. The existing septic system had failed and the owners were obliged to put in a new one.  We counseled our clients to make an offer contingent on the owners installing a four-bedroom septic system. Their offer was accepted. Once the septic system is installed, the value of the home will immediately jump by approximately $30,000 because it will be a four-bedroom. (By the way, the home is surrounded by others in the million dollar range, a good thing! ) Our clients plan to build a closet in the fourth bedroom and since there is already a full bath on the floor they will have a guest suite for the wife’s dad.  And by paying less than they budgeted for the home, they now can afford a kitchen re-do.  They’re also researching how to move a barn — an old one they plan to restore — onto their property.  They’ll soon have that home they dreamed about. All in a Day’s Work: Solving Real-Life, Real Estate Problems for our Clients is a monthly feature brought to you by Marie Presti of the Presti Realty Group of Realty Executives. Our agents specialize in luxury homes, rehabilitations, multi-families and condominiums in urban, suburban and exurban areas throughout the Greater Boston area. Marie Presti is a Certified Negotiation Expert. For more information, visit

Posted by Marie Presti on 10/25/2015

Home prices are at rock bottom and mortgage rates at all-time lows so you may be considering going from renter to homeowner. If you are planning on staying put for a while the choice makes sense. There are a few things to take into consideration before you make the leap from renter to owner. First, you will need to determine how much you can afford. Consult with a mortgage professional to help you determine what kind of mortgage you qualify for. Just because you pay $1,000 a month in rent, doesn't mean you can handle a $1,000 monthly mortgage payment. There are more costs to owning a home than just the mortgage payment. As a homeowner you will also be responsible for property tax, home insurance, utilities, and repairs. To prepare for those costs plan on adding about 40 percent to your base cost. So, if your mortgage is $1,000, add about $400 a month for a better estimate of costs. Before you make a rash decision see if you really can afford the cost difference. Once you know the cost difference spend a few months depositing the difference between your rent payment and your cost estimate in the bank. In the previous example you would deposit $400 a month into savings. If you've been able to keep up the deposits and pay your other bills, that's a sign you can afford to buy. Now that you have been saving more you have more money to put toward the down payment of your new home. These are just a few tips to get you started. Once you have a better financial picture it will be time to start shopping. That is when the fun begins.

Posted by Marie Presti on 8/31/2015

All In a Day’s Work: Solving Real-Life, Real Estate Problems for Our Clients Case Study: It’s important to advocate aggressively for your client, but sometimes you have to know when it’s time to let up. Problem:  With our help, our clients found a terrific 1940s era colonial — solidly built and in good condition— in a town south of Boston. Several days after the initial open house, we crafted an offer for $6,500 below asking price. A below-asking offer might seem ill-advised so early in the game, especially in a sizzling market. But when I learned that the sellers had already bought a new home, I knew that for them, time was of the essence. My clients, first-time home buyers, would be willing to close ASAP. I used the timing issue as leverage and we were successful: our offer was accepted. Unfortunately, the inspection revealed about $7,500 worth of problems, so we asked the sellers to take about half of that off our offered price. At 9 p.m. Friday evening, on my way to NH for some quick R & R, I received an email from the seller’s agent telling me the deal was off. They would go ahead with another open house on Sunday. Solution: Lucky for our clients, even when I’m “on vacation,” I’m keeping tabs on business. I quickly assessed the situation, decided that our original offer was still a very good deal for my clients, and then made a compelling case to them as to why. They agreed and at the 11th hour I salvaged the deal: all parties were thrilled.  My clients moved in 5 weeks later and are happy as can be. All in a Day’s Work: Solving Real-Life, Real Estate Problems for our Clients is a monthly feature brought to you by Presti Group of Realty Executives. Our agents specialize in luxury homes, rehabilitations, multi-families and condominiums in urban, suburban and exurban areas throughout the Greater Boston area. Presti Realty Group lead Marie Presti is a Certified Negotiation Expert. For more information, visit

Posted by Marie Presti on 8/30/2015

If you are thinking about owning a piece of property to live in while wanting to have an extra section to help pay the bills, then you will find that there is an effective way to do it. Today, many people are considering the idea of buying a multi-family home, because this allows you to have your own space for you and your family while getting extra income from renting the other apartments. Keep in mind that as advantageous as this is, there are a few points that you have to consider. The first thing to keep in mind is becoming a landlord will require some extra work. When repairs are needed, or a tenant does not pay the rent it can cause some unwanted worries. This being said it can also be a great way to start off allowing you to live, in some cases, rent free while getting monthly income to help pay down your mortgage. Another point to remember is that when it comes to renting, is choosing the right tenants, you have to remember that you are in fact running a business, as you will be collecting an income from the home you are renting. Take the time to choose the right tenant, a credit check, otherwise you might find yourself in a situation where you will be losing money if your tenant does not pay up at the end of the month. If you are willing to put in the work, purchasing a multi-family home can be a great way to invest.