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Come Home to the Berkshires | Berkshire County, Mass.

By Paul Harsch
iBerkshires Columnist

Traveling the world is exciting ... and exhausting, too.

Spending vacations at the beach is fun ... but then there is the sunburn.

Skiing in Colorado is thrilling ... but when the snow melts what else to you do?

Arizona is hot and dry and sunny ALL the time ... enough said.

Florida is great for the winter months but year around?  Oh my.

Home, yes, that is what the Berkshires are for.  And these are the reasons why:

The Berkshires are about crisp fall days of spectacular color followed by cool fall evenings and the wonderful aroma of fallen leaves.

The Berkshires are about fresh fallen snow blanketing everything in silence and turning everything it touches into a silhouette of pure magical white.

The Berkshires are about the brittle cold of winter made perfect in front of a blazing fireplace for snuggling inside with hot chocolate or mulled cider and your favorite book.

The Berkshires are about the exuberance of spring when it finally arrives and the joy of seeing the new shoots of green breaking ground, the sounds of the first spring birds joyously returning to start new families of their own, the first night of frogs singing in the ponds, the rich aroma of spring rains...

Then our summers, hot days, swimming in our pristine lakes or under a waterfall, boating, tennis, golf, gardening, hiking and sipping iced tea in the long afternoons.

The Berkshires are about the theater and art venues so plentiful here and lacking in  all those other locations.  Where on earth is there so much to see and do, to hear and be engaged in that stimulated the senses and intellect?

Where else but in towns like Lenox or Stockbridge can one get from home to an extraordinary experience like Tanglewood in such ease, no traffic (except at the gate itself)?

Where else can you virtually step from your home in Great Barrington or Williamstown onto trails in minutes that take you to breathtaking views?

Where else but towns like Monterey or Sandisfield, Otis or Becket can you live right on the lake of your dreams and yet be just minutes away from fine dining, winter skiing and the theater?

Where else but in Williamstown can you take classes at the top rated college in the U.S. in the morning, [play a round of golf on one of the top rated courses in the east, attend award-winning theater in the evening following a fabulous meal including farm to table local produce and cheeses and all within a short stroll or 3-minute car trip?

Nowhere else can you find living like in the Berkshires!  Isn't it time you called the Berkshires home?

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For Sale By Owner: Homes for sale in the Berkshires

Paul Harsch
iBerkshires Columnist

WHY do I need a Berkshire real estate agent to sell my Berkshire County home? 

How often have you heard these next statements.  Real estate agents don't do anything that I cannot do myself. Real estate agents don't do anything but get you to sign a listing form and then forget about you.  You never hear from them after you sign the paper.  I can save myself loads of money buy selling my Berkshires home myself.

How many times have you heard friends and family say this when they are considering selling a Berkshires property? I am betting more times than you can count on one hand. 

Selling your property online on Craig's list or through an assist to sell "for sale by owner agency" or a FSBO website for a small fee that covers putting the property in the local MLS sounds like a great bargain doesn't it? 

How hard can it be? So you have made the decision now to sell it your self.  Now comes the serious part.   Keeping your Pittsfield Real Estate FSBO house spotless (ongoing), fielding inquiry calls, separating the "nosy lookers" from the actual "qualified buyers", arranging your schedule to show your home between picking up the kids, going work and dropping off the dog at the vet. 

And if that doesn't put a damper on your enthusiasm for selling your Williamstown property yourself consider this, how good are you are negotiating, when was the last time you had your home appraised by a professional home appraiser, how many bank loan officers do you know, how much should you allow for the roof that is 11 years old and the basement that floods once a year in the spring.  Can you prepare a professional counter offer when you get the initial offer. 

What are the laws concerning real estate transactions in your state.  What fees are you responsible for and what fees is the buyer responsible for.  What disclosures are you legally responsible for providing a buyer with?How many websites will you be able to put your for sale by owner property on?  How often will you be able to monitor the hits and field the inquiries from buyers on those websites?  How will you attract the attention of local Real Estate Brokers, and professional Real Estate Agents so they know your home is on the market. 

How much of a commission will you offer these professionals to bring buyers to your home?  And if you don't offer a commission, why should they bring you a buyer?

Do you know what kinds of legal protections you need related to contracts in Masssachusetts with purchase/sale clauses.  How will you know a good offer from a great one?  These questions are one of the reason that more people are choosing professional real estate brokers and agents to handle their real estate needs.

In fact the number of people selling their home without the help of a real estate professional plummeted in 2009. Today's challenging marketplace favors the buyers.  Buyers are taking their time and exercising extreme caution when investing in home ownership. Buyers often come with a representative who is a professional Realtor. 

 This professional protects the interest of the buyer and is aware of all the rules we listed above and you can bet the farm that they will cover all bases before they advise their client to make an offer.  What professional is protecting your best interests?

"Selling a home is a full-time job," said National Association of Realtors® (NAR) president Vicki Cox Golder in 2010. "Unrepresented sellers often don't understand the complexity, range and timing of tasks they'll have to perform. In this competitive market, sellers need every advantage they can get."

According to the National Association of Realtor's  2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, "for-sale-by-owner" transactions dropped to a record low 11 percent, and almost half of those sellers sold their home to someone they already knew, such as a relative, friend or neighbor.  These are the facts: For every 100 homes sold only 11 are sold by owner and half of those are sold to a relative. 

Do you have a relative who wants to buy your home?  Read no further. Sell the house to the relative who offers the best price and is bank qualified to buy.

Realtors sold 89 of the 100 homes described above because Realtors have the buyers.  On the open market, today's sellers have to compete with bargain priced short sales and foreclosures as well as other homeowners who may be trying to sell their homes through professional real estate state agencies.

In addition, managing the appraisal process, inspections and buyer qualifications in a tougher credit market has become more complicated in this environment, adding to the already intricate transaction process.

Without professional assistance, sellers are faced with a marketing disadvantage. The survey revealed that more than half of unrepresented sellers did not actively market their homes to potential buyers. Those who did used yard signs, Internet listings and print newspaper ads.

Unfortunately, many unrepresented sellers don't have access to fundamental marketing services, such as a multiple listing services, and can't list their homes on these sites to reach a broader audience. 

Professional insights into preparing, pricing and positioning a home for sale pay off. In 2012, a typical property without professional assistance sold for $162,000 compared with $205,000 for the typical agent-assisted property.  The decline in "for-sale-by-owner" properties available indicates a growing awareness of how complicated today's real estate market is.

A Berkshires Realtor® has specific knowledge of the Berkshires market and can save consumers time and money. They can help a seller set a realistic price and ensure that the proper paperwork and various disclosures and inspections are handled correctly. Sellers will get broader market exposure and are more likely to generate competitive bids by working with a real estate professional.  Sellers should always interview several real estate agents and ask as many questions as needed to ensure comfort with the agent they choose.

Best Wishes,

Paul

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Paul Harsch, president and founder of Harsch Associates, a Berkshire County based real estate brokerage firm, is a licensed real estate broker in Massachusetts, New York and Vermont, serving a diverse residential, business, commercial and land client base for 40 years. He has achieved personal career sales exceeding $131 million and company sales from 1979 will top $500 million in 2014. Harsch is a member of the Berkshire, Massachusetts, Southwestern Vermont and National associations of realtors, is a licensed Massachusetts real estate instructor and earned the CRB, CRS, GRI and CBI designations. Harsch is a 1969 graduate of Williams College.

To submit comments, questions or requests for future blog topics write him at paul@harschrealestate.com.



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