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As Housing Market Heats Up, First-Time Home Buyers Taking More Risks

‘Waiving Mortgage Contingency or Home Inspection, Making an Offer Before You Know How Much a Property is Worth Could be Costly, Says Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents

Boston, MA – June 4, 2012 – First-time buyers hoping to take advantage of continued low interest rates and purchase a new home or condominium this spring are starting to take more risks – some of them potentially costly – when competing for "hot" properties in and around Boston, according to the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents (MABA).

Across the state, but even more so in the Boston area, MABA agents say they are seeing first-time buyers in competitive situations abandoning the kind of standard practices that protect buyers both during and after a real estate transaction. "The sort of risks that these buyers are taking in so-called multiple offer situations is alarming," says Sam Schneiderman, president of MABA. "I'm not sure whether they have agents or attorneys or are going it alone, but they can get themselves into a world of trouble."

According to Schneiderman, here are the most common risks MABA agents are seeing first-time buyers take in this market – risks that he says should be avoided no matter how attractive a deal otherwise appears.

1. Waiving the Mortgage Contingency

As a buyer, the mortgage contingency protects your deposit in the event that you cannot get a mortgage to purchase the home for any reason (unless exceptions are specifically noted). In a market like this, the chief danger in waiving the mortgage contingency is that the property won't appraise for the price agreed to by you and the seller. In this case, the bank is unlikely to loan the full amount needed to purchase the property, forcing you to opt out of the deal and lose the right to your deposit or go through with the transaction and pay the difference between the appraised value and the agreed upon purchase price – assuming you have the funds to do so. Either way, having waived the mortgage contingency can be costly in the end.

2. Waiving the Home Inspection

Waiving the home inspection is also becoming more common in this market. "Our agents are seeing a lot of this – especially when new construction is involved," says Schneiderman. "The thinking is that if it's 'new' everything will be fine so I can waive the home inspection, but this is often not the case." You need to know that the overall workmanship is good and that the home's electrical and plumbing are up to code. Heating and electrical problems, in particular, can create safety issues down the road. Waiving the home inspection when buying a rehabbed property can be even more perilous – anything could be covered over. A home inspection is critical to protecting yourself, your home, and your family – don't waive it!

3. Making an OFfer Before You Know How Much a Property is Worth

Before making an offer, it's important to have a clear sense of what the property is worth. The guiding principle is this, says Schneiderman: if you're financing your home purchase, your loan will be based on what the bank will appraise it for. Deals are falling apart here in Massachusetts and across the country as banks refuse to make loans on properties because appraisers maintain the purchase price exceeds market value. So, what's the solution? In most cases, working hand-in-hand with a good buyer's agent, you can determine the current value of a home or condominium beforehand by looking at comparable sales or "comps" and other market data. You make your offer – or offers, accordingly. A good buyer's agent will also help you determine when to walk away from a deal so you don't get yourself in a bind with the bank and/or overpay for the home.

Schneiderman's advice to first-time buyers: "In a market like the one we're in now it's important that you have a relationship with an agent – a good buyer's agent – who is committed to understanding you and your needs and who will advocate for you and you alone. The risk of doing otherwise – going it alone or working with an agent whose interests are not aligned with yours – is just too great."


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  • Massachusetts Pending Home Sales and Median Price Up Again in June

    The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® (MAR) reported today that single-family pending home sales were up over nine percent in June from last year. Pending condominium sales were also up more than 12 percent. The median price for both single-family homes and condos saw a hike, with the single-family median price rising over the $400,000 mark. Realtors® confidence both in the market and in home prices dipped slightly in June. This month’s “Hot Topic” question finds that the majority of Realtors® surveyed have had at least one transaction that was an all-cash deal (i.e. no mortgage involved) since the beginning of the year.

    June Pending Sales: 

    Single Family June 2017 June2016 % Change
    Sales 6,723 6,128 9.7%
    Median Price $410,000 $380,000 7.9%
    • Pending sales have been up 51 of the last 52 months 
    Condominium June2017 June2016 % Change
    Sales 2,596 2,307 12.5%
    Median Price $370,000 $349,900 2.9%
    • Pending sales have been up or flat 20 of the last 22 months 

    “The increase in homes put under agreement this month may be a positive sign for a spring market that has suffered plummeting inventory,” said 2017 MAR President Paul Yorkis, president of Patriot Real Estate in Medway. “However, median prices have continued to rise, which can push some buyers out of the market.”

    Realtor® Market and Price Confidence Indexes: 

    Confidence Index June2017 June2016 %Change
    Market 80.73 80.97 -0.29%
    Price 71.79 73.87 -2.82%
    • The Realtor® Market Confidence Index went down for the first time in 27 months
    • The Realtor® Price Confidence Index went down for the first time in six months
    • Measured on a 100-point scale, a score of 50 is the midpoint between a “strong” (100 points) and a “weak” (0 points) market condition  

    “The Realtor® Market Confidence Index has dipped year-over-year for the first time in over two years, indicating that Realtors® are growing concerned about some of their buyers being able to succeed in this market,” said Yorkis. “However, both indexes reveal that ultimately Realtors® remain positive. We just need to see more inventory to keep up with the demand.”

    With home inventory being as tight as it is, you want to give yourself every advantage if you are thinking of buying a home in Massachusetts. For the best possible experience, be sure to work with an agent who is a member of the Massachusetts Association of Buyer Agents.