Massachusetts is a caveat emptor, or “buyer beware,” state, which means that the seller of a home isn’t required by law to disclose a whole lot during the sale. The onus is on the buyer and the buyer’s agent to ask the right questions. But there are a few things sellers do legally have to report when listing their home.

The Existence of Lead Paint

This is an important one; sellers are legally obligated to disclose whether or not the home has lead paint in it. Often that information isn’t available, in which case the seller must warn potential buyers of the existence of lead paint if the home was built before 1978. For sellers this isn’t a huge concession, since so many homes in the Boston area pre-date 1978 construction, and by default, will likely have lead paint.


However, the vast majority of homes will have an “unknown” lead status. This simply means that the homeowners have never had the home tested for lead, so they do not know if lead paint is present or not.

The seller is obligated to disclose what they know about lead paint in the home (1.) yes, lead paint is present; (2) no lead paint is present; (3) home has been remediated for lead; or (4) the home has an unknown lead paint status). They must disclose this before entering into a formal agreement with any buyer. If they don’t, they may be fined up to $1,000.

The Presence of a Septic System

The other essential disclosure here in Massachusetts is the presence of a septic system. If your home has one you have to tell any potential buyers about it. Additionally, the system must have been inspected at least once in the two years leading up to the sale. If it hasn’t, an inspection must be done. The law doesn’t technically mandate who is responsible for the cost of the inspection, but typically the seller covers it.

Sellers are only obligated to disclose the existence and condition of the system; they’re technically not required to bring it up to compliance if there are existing issues. But that could be a deal breaker during a negotiation depending on the costs.

Basically, You Can’t Lie

The other legal stipulation is that if the seller chooses to disclose anything else or the buyer specifically asks about anything else, the seller is obligated to tell the truth about it. But because so little is required in disclosures, there’s a lot of grey area for omitting information.

For sellers this is pretty good news, there isn’t a whole lot you need to do to cover yourself legally. Although we recommend being upfront about things from the start, both to cover yourself morally and to avoid issues during a negotiation.

For buyers this isn’t the best news because it takes some digging to know what you’re getting yourself into. That’s why it’s important to have a buyer’s agent who knows how to bring a shovel to an open house and dig up any property dirt that might not have been disclosed. Lucky for you, we’re excellent diggers! Reach out at 617-942-1741 or nextdoor@compass.com for more information.


  • nextdoorrealtyteam

Timing is key when you’re buying or selling a home in Boston—and the market in 2021 is a little bit crazy! Depending on what’s most important to you (say, price or ease of transaction), you’ll want to carefully choose which season to list or hunt for a home. We’ve weighed the pros and cons of each season to help you choose what’s best for you.

Sellers

For sellers, spring is often touted as the best time to list a house. After a long, usually tough, winter, Bostonians are ready to get out into the sunshine and find a new home. Because of steep competition amongst buyers, sellers can often get higher prices for their home than in the winter market. However, spring is not only high in buyers but also generally high in inventory, meaning competition is fierce. 2021 has been a little bit lighter in inventory, and so competition among buyers for limited buyers has been fierce for the last several months. According to data from Realtor.com, spring gives sellers the best balance between a quick sale and a high price.

But, if your timing is flexible and price is more important to you than a quick turn around, summer may be a better way to go. Competition remains high throughout the summer but inventory is slightly lower and family buyers are highly motivated to close on a home before school starts in the fall.

Takeaway: Spring is best timing for sellers, generally a quicker sale and a strong sale price. Buyers will have lots of competition during the spring months.

Buyers

For buyers, the most inventory is listed in the spring, which means the most options for you...and everyone else! Many other buyers are also active so competition is high and prices will likely be driven up. That competitive market can also be frustrating and stressful when things are shown and sold too quickly to make an informed decision. If you’re willing to fight the fight, this is a good time to choose from a wide set of options.

If you’d rather keep the stress to a minimum, competition eases up in the fall. Sellers may also be willing to negotiate on the price to close the deal before the winter. That said, inventory is lower during this time, which means fewer options. It can also be challenging for families with children just starting school to make an abrupt change.

Takeaway: Spring is competitive but offers the widest selection for buyers; fall has a smaller selection of homes available for buyers but there is generally less competition and more chances to score a deal.

If you’re not sure what season makes the most sense for you, give us a call and we’d be happy to talk it through with you: 617-829-3907.


  • nextdoorrealtyteam


Jamaica Plain’s Stony Brook neighborhood has enchanted Bostonians for hundreds of years. The area has been sought after by homeowners since the 18th century as a country oasis within just miles of downtown Boston. In 2020 Stony Brook still strikes the ultimate balance between urban accessibility and lush, organic green spaces.


Frederick Law Olmstead paid special care to Jamaica Plain with immense natural sanctuaries like Franklin Park, the Arnold Arboretum—the oldest public arboretum in North America—and Jamaica Pond, all within a stone’s throw of the Stony Brook neighborhood. Despite these spectacular natural landscapes, a 20-minute ride on the nearby Orange Line gets you to the hustle and bustle of downtown Boston.


The Stony Brook neighborhood is actually named for the literal river that used to run above ground in the area. The brook still lives, coursing underground beneath this vibrant community. Residents can bike ride through the Southwest Corridor Park, listen to live music at the classic Midway Café and attend a meeting at the local community center all without leaving the neighborhood. For those who crave the great outdoors but also desire the convenience of urban living, Stony Brook offers a heavenly balance.


Want to be the newest neighbor in this nature-driven district? Reach out to us at 617-829-3907 or nextdoor@unlimitedsir.com to start your property search. Our team member Josh Brett lives right nearby and would love to give you our insider tips!