General Index 

General House Hunting Articles

Things about Housing Everyone Should Know

Good Towns for Buyers, Good Towns for Sellers

Home Buying, Step by Step

Common Housing Problems and What to Do


Common Expenses when Buying or Selling Homes

After You Move In

Remodeling Slideshows for Kitchens, Baths, and others!


March 14, 2024

How To Sell A Home With A Failed Septic (Title V) in Massachusetts


Don't forget, if you want to know how to buy a home with a failed septic, I have you covered-


Transcript of the video!

Okay, how are you? This is Matt Heisler from Vanderbilt Properties and today we're going to do the second part in my septic series. First part was how to buy a house with a failed septic. Today we're going to talk about how to sell a house with a failed septic. That video was pretty popular. It's still got some good hits. So hopefully this one will too! Selling side is a little bit simpler. But I'm going to try to go over this fast. So let's make sure that you catch as much as you can here. 

The first thing is, I've had many sellers over the years tell me that they're sure their system is going to fail and I tell them to test anyway. And guess what happens? Well, when we test, it doesn't fail, In which case you don't have a problem and you go right to market. So, I know you're going to get, you know, you may think that it's old, you may think that's an old style. I've had people say oh it's a cesspool, that won't pass  - cesspools can pass! Okay, they can pass. I mean it may not pass, hopefully you've been taking care of it if it's an older system and you know,if it's creaky, hopefully you're getting it pumped every year. That will seriously help its chances of passing. If you're not going to sell for a couple years and you're watching this video, and if you haven't been pumping, go out there and get it pumped! Go out there and get it pumped, and who knows, in two years, maybe it will pass, maybe you'll get a clean pass out of it. 

Most important thing here is you want to make sure that you've got a septic inspector that you know that's going to give you, you know, a good honest read on the system and isn't necessarily all that excited about replacing your system. We do want to get the straight answer here. And like i said, a lot of times, you can be surprised that the system that you thought was old and creaky and whatever ends up passing. So hopefully, that's the case, but if not, the reason you want to get a Title 5 report is because sometimes, when they fail, the things can be fixed.

There's a whole bunch of things that can go wrong. I've listed a few here. These are the most common. I mean, we have broken and rotted d-boxes all the time. It's a very common thing. It can cost 3500 to get a new d-box in there, but its 35 hundred, it's not 35 thousand. You can reduce the cost of what you need to do for the system, sometimes by tens of thousands of dollars. If you can get it fixed with just a repair and sometimes that's what a full inspection will reveal, is that the reason you're having an issue with the system is because it needs a repair. That's something that can be done. The reports themselves are very informative and you want to make sure that you understand where your system is (in in it’s lifecycle). The third thing that we're going to talk about here is if it fails, okay? You get the bad news. You had the right inspector and despite your best effort, It fails. Okay. You want to fix it. If you can, okay, and ultimately we want to have it fixed before we go on to the market. That's your best process here. Now, having said that a lot of times when I tell people that we're going to have to go get it fixed, they are very concerned that the process is complicated.

And you know what, if you haven't done it before? It is complicated. It's best to work with someone like myself who has been to many town halls and asked all the questions about how we get these systems installed and approved and engineered and finally installed into the ground.  You don't have to learn this, all on your own. There are other people who've already learned the lessons and learned where the mine fields are. I'm happy to show you so that you can have a quick easy process. Hell, I'll probably even push the paperwork for you.When you can get it fixed, you don't have to do that by yourself.

It's great if you can. I appreciate it. When I walk in there, it's already been fixed. It's already been designed, and it's going in there next week. That's great for me but if you need help, there is help available. I know a lot of people go to the town and they just -  it's you know, the people that do this all the time it's they have a vocabulary and a process and paperwork and sometimes it's not as clear as exactly what it is that needs to happen.

We just have to break that down into pieces that everybody can execute. Now for the money side of it, okay, you know that you want to fix it and get it all fixed before but you're worried about the money. Well, If you can get a HELOC a home equity line of credit, or if you already have a home equity line of credit that you're not using, This is a good thing to use it for, Right?   You're going to pay off that HELOC when you sell the house, anyway. Well, might as well use it to fix up the house. I mean, ultimately, that's what it's for. It's a HOME equity line credit. Also, you may be able to pay some of the expenses out of closing, OK? You may be able to say to some folks, “ Hey, listen. I'm going to sell the house. I can pay in 60 days, does that work?” And then, you know, there's some things that we can do between the attorneys and the deals and the and the folks and hopefully they'll take the money that way.  Believe it or not, if neither of those work sometimes the town and the state will let you borrow money to fix up your septic system. Generally a lot of specific rules there. That process is not very fast but if you know again doing that is better than selling it with a failed system.

We want to do that and I did want to promise everyone that there was a special offer, that i was going to make everyone.  The offer is this, if you want a free Title 5 report, I am happy to pay for your Title 5, If you're planning on selling your house.

You know, we'll get the septic guy out there. We'll get that inspected and you won't have to pay for the report. I try to deliver value as much as I can early on. This is one of the ways I can deliver value for you. Obviously restrictions and details, apply, I’m not going to go into them here. I'm trying to keep this video short as possible!  But if that's something that's interesting for you, feel free to reach out and give me a call. After you've done as much as you can on the money front and on the title 5 front, it's time to evaluate your strategy.  Again as mentioned earlier, if you can, you want to fix it first and then go to market after the grass is grown in. If you can't do that, well, there's a halfway step. Okay, we can get a septic design done and we can get estimates for how to build it and then as part of the transaction, put money in escrow and have the buyer, get it fixed after s/he already buys the house.

That is a significantly cheaper way in terms of the money up front that you need to do. Ultimately the money does come out of the sale just as  it comes out of the house (when it sells). Just as it would if you used a HELOC, but in this particular way, It doesn't happen until after close.

That's definitely an option. It's something that we want to do for the most part, if you do it that way. Then you can minimize what kind of discount you'll have to offer on your house in order to sell it. That's usually pretty acceptable to most buyers, you know?

And it's a great way to go. The very last option is to sell without doing anything at all. To just tell people you have a failed title five and they're going to have to put the system on their own and you're not going to help them. I just you just need to understand, this is going to cost you two to three times what the system will in terms of what you're going to lose in equity. So buyers who are buying houses with failed septic systems demand deep discounts as a general rule. I mean, you could get lucky. But, I like to say “luck is not a strategy”.

Where possible, please try to avoid that option. And if you want help avoiding that option, you're not sure how to do it. Give me a call. It's what I'm here for. Again, just a reminder that that failed system. Is not how you want to be marketing your house, okay? That makes it a distressed property. You know,  there are people if you want to watch my how to buy a house with a failed system. You don't need to buy it in cash, but you are significantly restricting the number of people who are going to be interested in your house for the simple reason that some people are going to think that they need cash to buy it.

The rest of them know that you know it's going to be a big project to do and they don't want to do it. It just eliminates an awful lot of buyers from the market and that's not what we want to do. When we're selling your house, we want to increase the number of buyers who are interested in your home. Not decrease it. And as a reminder, you know, if you're thinking about selling your house and you don't want to pay for your Title V report, give me a call. I'll be happy to get someone out there to inspect that system. Again, restrictions and details apply, but happy to do that for you.

You'll never see the bill and hopefully we go on from there. That's the end of this video. If you have questions for me about your septic and real estate, I'm here for them. Please leave them in the comments. Thanks.

Feb. 15, 2024

How Long Does It Take To Build A House?

How Long Does It Take To Build A House?

Wondering how long it might take you to build a home?  Well, here's an overview of traditional stick frame construction.  


Hey, we're going to talk about how long does it take to build a house? I get asked this all the time. A lot of people are surprised at how long it takes, but we'll sort of go through the process. And we'll try to do that quickly. Also going to go through the process because some people may be thinking, well, I'm going to buy a house, and, it's halfway built but I don't really know how long it's going to take until it's done. Well, if you use the tips that I give you in this video, then you'll be able to sort of project about when they'll be able to be done just by looking at the information that we go over here.

If you like this video, don't forget, subscribe to my channel. I need more subscribers to keep the content coming. But hopefully, we'll do this nice and quick and easy, so One remind people that building a house is not easy. So it's a custom project, even if they have stock housing, floor plans, even if they're building at a neighborhood of 200 houses.


It's still not that easy and in other parts of the country I'm in Massachusetts, it can go faster. A lot of that is simply because they build bigger neighborhoods and they get into sort of a manufacturing mentality, but in this part of the world even if they're building a fairly large development, They have a hard time, breaking the five-month barrier, and we're going to see why. A couple of the reasons why stuff usually gets delayed, is because cities and towns are involved, right? And they don't necessarily do everything exactly when the builder needs it done? And homeowners a lot of times caused delays. I know when I've helped people, buy new construction, I've had to remind them constantly about the kinds of things that they need to order to make sure that the building is not stopped. 

Again, i'm going to remind everyone that this is, you know, my overview for a stick frame, built house, okay? Not modular construction, which doesn't really save that much time, but It's a stick-frame built house which is the majority of the construction around here, an ideal situation and you know it just sort of assumes that everything happens when it's supposed to happen. The first thing you got to do is you're going to take a big hole of the ground - you got to put in a foundation, right? That takes in and of itself about a week, but generally, you have to let the concrete dry too. So they used to let the concrete dry for weeks and weeks and weeks before they start to build on it. But today, they don't today. They, they pretty much start framing the house as soon as they feel like, it'll hold a nail. They get right into it and then they frame it and a lot of people think that the framing is what takes the longest period of time, but it doesn't it can happen incredibly fast. The framers around here are generally really good and they just tend to move right along especially if they've got a good plan. But after it's framed, you've got to make it weather tight.


You know especially around here. You know we get a lot of rain. Rain isn't going to speed anything up. So the first thing you want to start doing is putting roof on putting that siding on putting the windows on and once it's weather tight, then you can get the other contractors in there. The electric the plumbing (contractors) and they can do what's called the rough install. Okay. So they don't put in any of the fixtures, but they run the plumbing and they run all the wires that are going to go behind the walls. No switches. But, Again all the plumbing and wiring that was behind the wall. This used to take a little bit longer but today with PEX you can do it really quick and most of the time. If you can ideally, you're going to try to get the plumber's in the electricians in there, as soon as it's dry and safe to do so. Now after that, everything's got to stop and pretty much everything needs to stop because the town has to come out and do an inspection and it's called the rough inspection, which is why i've called it here, you know, the rough phase even though the plumbers really don't call it that, so, and then we get to the next (phase). Oh yeah, so we're not done. So once the rough inspection is signed off by the town, then you have then the builder can go ahead and insulate.


This does not take that long, i've seen them insulate, a fairly large house in about two days, takes longer if you're going to use foam cell installation, but if you're going to use the regular pink stuff, which is still code, most places it's a week, you know, and it's really quick. But the problem is is as soon as that installation is done. You're going to stop again, and there's another inspection. So, in the reason is because the step that's after this is drywall, you can't cover up the insulation before the inspection has has seen it, right? So To do the rough (inspection), they need to make sure that all the things that are important there like the electric is up to code. The plumbing is up to code. They need to make sure that that's OK. That's what they look at during the rough inspection. Once you start putting insulation and you cover up all the plumbing in the electric or a lot of it. Then they can't see it. And that's bad. So that's why they have to stop twice with the only intermediate step being insulation, but after that, we can start building the house again. Drywall and plaster that typically takes a week, but you do need to factor in a couple of extra days to make sure that the plaster dries. Then generally the finished carpenter goes in there and he puts in baseboard, he puts in only a crown molding. He does the wraps around the doors and the windows.


I mean, it's a week and that's if he's got a crew you know if it's kind of a two-man show, they usually work in two main crews and that can take longer. Once that's in, then you can start doing the cabinetry and believe it or not, that usually only takes about a week. Finished, carpentry overlaps, a little there today, for most of the new construction and then everyone can get in there and start putting in the sinks and things. They can start putting in the showers and that's called the, the final kitchen and bath, right? So you add all that up together and it's another five weeks going by. Let's see. And then, to finish up. You've pretty much had everything done, but now you've got to have the painters in there. You really can't do anything else. If you're trying to paint the house quickly, he's got to do the baseboard. He's got to do the walls, they got drop cloths everywhere, Some of these things you can do in in a slightly different order, but for the most part, the painters are in there before the flooring guy is going there and that keeps the paint off the floor. So, but you can do it the other way. Flooring can take a week. It takes longer, if you're going to do in-place, hardwood flooring, instead of pre-finished, But I mean you can generally carpet three bedrooms a day with a good crew, like that does not take very long. There's a lot of flooring that you can put in in a few hours. So if you have enough guys, it's pretty easy to do the flooring for an entire house in less than a week.


Then you're going to stop again because basically good news is the house is done but the town still isn't done with the house. They need to issue a certificate of occupancy or a CO for short. And that means that they've got to come out and make sure that the final plumbing looks good. The final electrical looks good that they don't see anything unsafe. When they do that, final inspection. And so once that that is signed off, you know, then there's a few days while the builder finishes the punch list and then he can close. So, You add all of that up. And it turns out that this came out to 13 weeks, which is four months, which is absolutely the single fastest way you can probably build a house around here. The kinds of delays that people run into again you know, if they're ready to install a kitchen cabinets but the kitchen cabinets have it arrived. Well then everyone's got to sit around and wait for that to happen. I mean, if you think about the things that you, you know, you you can you start painting the kitchen, Or putting the flooring in without the kitchen cabinets, you really can't. And so the builder doesn't do a lot of (those type of) things. Generally he he prefers that when the subs go in there that have access to the house and they can do it as fast as possible, right? But that generally means giving them complete access and that means that they don't do a lot of partial stuff, if something gets delayed, same thing with the electrical, I mean, you can't, if you order a specialty fixtures to do, You know, nice lamps and pendants and everything else. And they're not, and they don't come in. I mean, even if it's just a kitchen pendant lamp, He can't get the final sign off. You know, the builder can't get the final signature from the town until every single fixture is in. Again, that's around here. You know, again, i'm just being You know i'm sure in other parts of the world,this is not true but around here they tend to take that kind of stuff, very seriously. So That's how long it takes to build a house. I hope that you like this. If you enjoyed this, don't forget to subscribe. And if you're thinking about building house, give me a call. I can probably help. So uh and that's it. Talk to you later. Bye.

Jan. 17, 2024

Should I Get an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) Or A Fixed Rate Mortgage?



I thought we'd tackle this age-old question in the posts today.  There are a lot of factors here to consider, so what I thought I'd do is post a framework for thinking about how to answer the questions, and depending on the response, if people want to know more, do some actual math examples with some opinions as to what most people should do.  OK, lets start with some basics.  If you prefer, you can watch my video where we go over specific examples! 


What is an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) or a Fixed Rate Mortgage


Definition time! Most people understand Fixed-Rate Mortgages. You get a rate, (like 5%) a term (like 30 years, or 15 years), and the rate doesn't change until the loan ends, and the payment is the same.  ARMs have many more options. We'll deal with the common situations in this post. Most ARMs are 5-year and 7-year fixed rate terms. That means that the rate is actually FIXED for the first part of the term. So a "5-year ARM" is a "Fixed-Rate Mortgage for 5 years, and then the rate may change over the next 25 years". A 7-year ARM is fixed for 7 years, and so on. There are usually restrictions on how high the rate can go, and how fast it can go, but we'll leave those aside for now. There are less common products - like ARMs that adjust after just one year - but most of those are gone in the retail market after the havoc they played in the housing market just a short time ago.

Why you would consider an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM)?


First off, the ONLY reason to get an Adjustable is that there is usually a lower rate associated with an ARM then with it's Fixed-rate counterpart.  Here's the basics of how it works:  The bank is willing to offer you a lower rate because their "risk" in extending you money over the long-term is much less.  If rates move up, they'll be able to move their rates up, and the loan will stay



profitable.  30-years is a long time to make a bet, and the banks are much more comfortable with shorter term bets.  So where did the risk go?  To you, dear mortgage holder, to you.  You are taking the risk that when the fixed rate term of the ARM ends, you are either: 1) In a position to pay off the loan (unlikely, unless you are going to sell the home)  2) Rates are lower/equal to when you got your mortgage 3) Your home has appreciated/you have built equity to the point where you can get a better loan and terms than before.


If those are all untrue, your mortgage rate will go up and your payments will too, sometimes painfully much.


So When Should I Buy an ARM?


Well, there are a couple of factors that dictate the When:  1) You think when the term ends that rates will be manageable and you'll be able to get in a fixed-rate.  2) The difference between the fixed rate and the ARM rate is so large, that you'll be able to pay down the loan much, much faster.  You should not use an ARM because that's how you can afford "more" house.  Not a good idea to use a short-term financial product to reach, unless you're expecting a significant increase in income before the term ends.


Examples between choosing ARMs vs. Fixed Rates

Let us look at some examples here.

With a little math and

understanding of your risk,

you can make the right choice for you.

Example #1

Loan #1:  5-year ARM, Rate @ 5.0, 30 year term

Loan #2   30 year Fixed Rate @ 5.3


Recommendation:  This is actually what the ARM market looked like for some time in the past couple of years.  There's not enough reason to get the ARM with just a .3 differential.  You're taking a lot of risk, for minimal reward.  You can probably save the same money on your own - risk free.



Example #2

Loan #1: 7-year ARM, Rate @ 4.0, 30 year term

Loan #2 30 year Fixed Rate @ 5.3

Extenuating Factors: You have three kids and know you'll probably need/want a bigger house in five years or so.




The rate is pretty compelling on it's own, but if you know that you're going to move - and you can't take that loan with you, you'll need a new one, it probably makes sense to go with the ARM. You'll be able to pay yourself thousands in additional equity with the lower rate. And seven years is a long time - that's longer than many people stay in one place, so there's a fair amount of security there.


Example #3

Loan #1:  3-year ARM, Rate @ 4.0, 30 year term

Loan #2   30 year Fixed Rate @ 5.3

Extenuating Factors: You have limited job security


Recommendation:  The rate is compelling here, but the term - just 3 years - is not.  There's so little security in this loan, that it's unlikely to make sense.  It's all well and good to say you'll move in three years, but you know what?  Three years is not a good timeline to be thinking about staying in a house.  5 years is much better.  Things happen, but for the most part you want to stay put to help your financial future the most.  (Why?  It's called Reverse Amortized Mortgage....).


Those are basically the easy choices. The hard choices are where the numbers are closer, and depend greatly how much risk you're comfortable taking on. There's a reward for you in choosing right - saving more money - but it good to be humble when predicting the future!


Do Good Things Today! // 


 Matt Heisler

Dec. 29, 2023

Massachusetts Real Estate Update December 2023 January 2024




Hey, how are you? It's been too long. We're gonna do another housing market update. This is usually, one of my most popular postings that I do out here on my channel, hopefully, you’ll like this, too. We'll do a quick overview with how we finished up the year and then of course we're going to get into the prediction for 2024.


So why should you stick around? You should stick around because the last time I did a report, I absolutely nailed it, the data in real estate doesn't lie, it tells you where we're going as well as where we've been. So with that, we're going to jump right into the data. And hopefully, Learn something about where we might be seeing in 2024. So, As we saw over the summer, most houses are still selling very, very quickly.


But, not all of them, you know, if they're overpriced for whatever reason, they're not selling.. But, agents and sellers are pretty sure about what they can get for their house,so they are pricing their properties fairly competitively, as we saw over the summer.


The number of houses that are being sold is down. We actually did a little bit of a rally in in the second half of the year but still, we're down 20 percent, pretty much across the board for single families and condos which is just -  It's a huge drop. If we're lucky, we'll get, you know, another five or six percent to come back this year in terms of transaction volume.


But I don't really think that we're going to see a significant increase, probably until 2025, but we'll see! I just don't - I still think that there's just too many people sitting on really low mortgages, and most of them aren't going to want to give them up to pay something else.


There are some going to be some more people out there that are interested in moving. But they're going to have to be folks that are trying to swap one mortgage for another.  Let's see. So One of the things that we look for is we look for weakness in other parts of the market in order to figure out if things are going to change.

One of the places I look is rentals because if rentals are building up on the market then rental prices are going to fall.  People will stop buying houses because it'll get cheaper to rent. But that's not actually what we see. Over the summer, We saw that the number of rentals was 4500 and now it's only four thousand rentals active.


That's actually down. That means that there isn't going to be any rental price relief coming in the future. That's not particularly an encouraging number. The number of single families that are active, this is December. It's the last week of December. This number isn't super, super accurate, It's really kind of a bit bigger, but based on what we're looking at over the summer, we're down a thousand houses.  And over a third of the inventory is over a million, a third of the active inventory. 


In terms of prices, prices were probably flat year over year.I think in spots they were up, I think maybe even on balance, they were up one percent. It's really hard to tell, where how it's doing across the entire state. But I do think in some places they were down, but in most places, I think the prices were probably up marginally, which considering the fact that interest rates, you know, basically over the last 14 months have gone from three to seven, It's unbelievable that prices are basically the same but they are. It just sort of says that there probably isn't going to be any price relief anytime soon.  Not without (more)  inventory. Now having said that, out of all the bad news, some of the good news is that the average days on market, for homes not sold has gone up significantly since the last time we've checked in on the report.


77 days for Worcester county for properties that are still on the market and haven't sold 100 days from Middlesex County. Now there are a lot of reasons for that and most of the resales are not in that mix. But basically, there are a few people out there that are, are trying, a lot of them are builders that are trying to get more money than the market says than they probably should, which for the last two years, has been a good strategy for them but right now the buyers are saying,  “no”,  that it's a bridge too far and they're not going to pay it, but some of these folks are comfortable waiting around to see if they can find that buyer.


I have to tell you, I don't think the inventory is going to help them out very much. Most of these people are going to have to cut prices and the good news about that is it tells other people who are entering on the market, what prices aren't going to work. That means more sellers, most of whom are not ready to wait a hundred days for an offer, are going to come on at reasonable prices. So once you have some price discovery about prices that don't work tells you a lot about what prices might work, and that's going to be pretty good for the market.

Going forward really quick. Here's the quick prediction. January March are unlikely to bring many sellers. Inventory numbers are super low right now. We are simply not going to see enough inventory in the next two to three months to really change that balance. So if you were hoping prices were going to be lower in the spring, I have to tell you, that's probably not the case.


There are probably going to be a lot more buyers entering the market in January and February, then sellers. And we're probably going to see a return in a lot of cases to competitive offers, you know, higher levels of traffic, and that's going to last until the spring when the sellers really start to come on.


Really, then it will depend on how many sellers do come on to see whether or not we balance. You know, towards the sellers or we balance towards the buyers, whether prices go up or whether or not prices go down. I mean more pressure from the buyers is likely because interest rates have fallen significantly in the last month and a half.


I don't think that they're going to fall a ton further, basically. Right now banks are anticipating certain cuts down the line if we get to June and the feds made a couple of cuts. They will fall a little bit more but they probably aren't going to fall a point and a half.


Basically, what's out there right now is probably what you're going to get for most of 2024. So if you're waiting for interest rates to get a lot lower, it's probably not going to happen. So you might want to be thinking about looking earlier, when optimism is good, if the FED gets a bad news and starts to take away some of that interest rates could certainly go higher from here.


At the end of the day for sellers, it's still going to be a very strong market. That's probably going to last at least until May, but it could last a lot longer, especially if rates either continue to fall or the economy continues to improve. I mean last year was not so great on the economic side, but around here, I think most people would tell you that they didn't really feel any sort of slowdown.


So until we really start to get more of the slowdown, till we get more sellers, getting their houses on the market, it's going to be another tough year for buyers just that's how it is going to be. 


It's going to wrap up here. And if you're thinking about selling your house, please give me a call. I can probably give you a no visit valuation which means that i can come up with a price that's within four or five percent. Hopefully, just by talking through property and finding out what's there. And if you want to really get accurate, make sure you just let me know and I come right out to your house and get you within one percent of today's valuations again.


Pretty good data out there, not so hard for an experienced agent like myself to get you a really accurate number so that you can do the planning that you need. Either for this year or next. So if you want other information like this market report, please like and subscribe to the channel.

Dec. 9, 2023

What's It Like IN Southborough Video Tour

Can you get a feel for a town in under five minutes?  Watch this video to see how we do.




Hello and welcome to my tour of Southborough. My little video tour is going to try to see the whole town and just a little in 24 minutes. Let's see how we do. All right now in Southborough doesn't have a ton of let's say historical things to see but we do have the Burnet house currently in private hands and being renamed to the Deerfoot Mansion. It is easily viewable from Route 30 which cuts right through town and hopefully folks will be able to get in there soon, but it's been remodeled extensively over the last couple of years and when it's lit up at night, it's quite nice. Definitely sort of a Cornerstone property with a lot of history behind it in town.

Deerfoot Mansion abuts the Sudbury Reservoir, which is no surprise, as Sudbury Reservoir cuts through town. I have a couple of shots here of it, but the best part about being such a big part of the Sudbury Reservoir, I mean about 25 to 30% of the town is actually committed land for that purpose is when you're driving around, beautiful Scenic shots are there multiple Bridges through town the cut over and above the Sudbury Reservoir and we have a lovely view of it all year round. Plus there is a dedicated loop trail that cuts through most of the Sudbury Reservoir. It's long and it's great.

Having done that we're going to cut over to the st. Marks private school. The downtown in Southborough actually has two private schools not public schools with private schools right there in the middle that take up a big part of the scenic view of downtown. St. Mark's School is your typical Prep School. It was founded in the 1800 and has been there ever since so the original buildings are all done in this tudor-style.They have started to put more modern looking ones. But if you're an antique aficionado like me, I sort of wish they'd kept going with the tutor thing. I think it gives it an awful lot of charm. So it's a lovely campus and it's getting more sophisticated all the time. if you're interested in private school st. Mark should definitely be on your list.

Fay School is actually an elementary private school. It's a little bit harder to see from the road, but it does have an awful lot of fancy stuff going for it. But the real reason that people move to town, or at least most of them, is the public schools. Southborough public schools are well regarded this year's trottier middle one of the newest schools and it's quite nice. Not all towns have a golf course and Southborough is a small town. So has a small golf course. It does have nine holes, which can get a little hard packed in the summer but it is owned by the town and what is great is it's not usually very crowded especially during the week and you can usually get out there and do and do a quick nine holes.

One of the more Charming events in Southborough is on Columbus Day weekend everyone almost everyone in town carves a pumpkin. We have a giant pumpkin carving not really a contest but it's a display or everyone puts their best ideas for pumpkins out. You can see it is quite crowded at night, but it's a good time especially for the young kids and it's an event that just keeps on going. It's been going on for years. If you're looking for Big Town action. Southborough, it's not it. So these are a couple of shots of the downtown if you blink you might miss it. There's only a few buildings where we really don't have sort of a classic downtown with shops and restaurants. It's much smaller. But we do have those we have to commute around and the commuter rail is basically a straight shot into Boston. It's something that a lot of folks want so they don't have to be driving in the parking lot does get full as do most of the other stops, but we're only a few miles away from Boston. That's my tour! I hope you enjoyed it

Oct. 30, 2023

5 Spooky Home Inspection Problems that Aren't so Scary


5 Spooky Home Inspection Problems that Aren't so Scary


Transcript Follows! (Note much of transcript is AI generated, so mistakes may be in the text, it's lightly edited). 


Things that I have found that home buyers are universally really, really nervous about but don't don't really need to be. So the first one and the second one are both related. We do a lot of radon testing today. A lot of times, people are worried about radon in the air but 99% of the time, they don’t need to be.


No one should really be worried about that. Radon systems or very simple. They're very effective and they're very inexpensive. So my feeling of radon is that nobody should, especially with radon in the air, no one should walk away from the house. Radon in the water is a little bit more complicated if the house has a well and you find radon in the water. You know, some people just aren't going to be okay with that. But I have to tell you. It's not all that serious of a health hazard. So some of the other things that we've talked about are far more serious. A lot of states don't even have, you know, maximum thresholds for radon in well water and I assume that's because they don't consider it to be very serious. I tend to agree. Plus there are mitigation systems that you can use they are on the expensive side. But there are systems that can solve it. 


Garage floor basement cracks and most foundation tracks. Okay. People really get worried about cracks in the garage floor, or heaves, you know, different words at different levels, or Big basement floor cracks. These cracks are non-structural. They don't have anything to do with the house. So they're (the concrete floors) are really just put down, you know, to keep the dirt down, keep the water down, keep the moisture down.


They're non-structural. So people get really worked up about it but there's really no reason to be. And most of the time, the deals will stay together once we explain it to them. It's just non-structural. Most foundation cracks. Again. They're nothing-burgers. I mean, you should always have a home inspection and you should always have your inspector look at all foundation cracks, you know, they look for evidence that you know, it's still moving that it's slipping away that there's some sort of issue underneath. But 99% of the time, you're not really, you're not going to see that. 


Roof issues. I mean, it's become conventional wisdom, that if a house has a bad roof you just shouldn’t buy it, but I mean today, you can fix roofs. And honestly, out of a lot of things that need to be fixed on a house. They've become one of the more inexpensive ones. I mean, if you're buying a three thousand square foot house and if it needs all new AC equipment, that's like 25 thousand dollars. The roof is probably 16.  So, it's a little bit more than half.


I mean is 16 thousand dollars a lot of money? Yeah, but If it's your dream house so you don't walk away from it, you negotiate over the money and settle it out and that's what you should do with roof issues.. They should not be a deal breaker in any way shape or form.


I mean maybe the sellers unwillingness to negotiate over it should be a deal breaker. But not the roof itself.


Broken septic! If you look around on my videos, you'll see that Ihave recommended that if you find houses with broken septic, they can be significant opportunities and you know, a fixed septic is a fixed septic.


I mean, once it's got the all clear from the board of health, you're good to go. So, you know, broken septic, it scares people. People worry a lot about septic, but when I see a house with broken septic, what I know is you're going to get a brand new septic system.


And that's great! That's a good thing. Not a bad thing. So it's really just working out the details to make sure you’re protected and you don't end up with something that doesn't work. That's really what it's about. Similar in a similar way, a broken heat exchanger, I've had multiple inspections where we've gone through and they, they open up the furnace, and they look at the heat exchanger and they say it’s cracked.


And the buyer says, well, what does that cost to fix? And the home Inspector goes like, this is, can't fix it. Need new heater, They're like, “new heater. I want out!”  I'm on the other side. Going, “A new heater. Fantastic!”  To me the house just got seven thousand dollars cheaper, and I got a brand new heater. 


A lot of this really all depends on how you're looking at that. But I wouldn't worry about a broken heat exchanger as a buyer. You have tremendous leverage to get that fixed. And so, you know, like I say down at the bottom home buyers are often risk averse about all these items, but with risk brings opportunity, Okay? An opportunity to improve the house as you go through inspection.


So not everything that comes up in an inspection should, you know, force you to back away, especially if you really like the house. So a good agent, a strong agent will work to make sure that you understand the issue at a significant level and that it can be fixed, it's a house almost anything can be fixed.


So it's really more about the money and about what the situation is going to be going forward. So I hope this video helps. I'll put up my final slide here. You know, just let people know that if you have a home inspection question and you feel like I could help you answer it I probably can!  


I'll try to get back to you soon as I can.  It can be anywhere in the country and I'll try to get back to you. I’m not a home inspector. But in terms of negotiating and protecting buyers with home inspection issues, that's definitely something I can help you with.


If you want to avoid problems that your inspection by making sure someone is going through the house who's been on a few hundred inspections. Right here. Reach out. I'm happy to help you and if you like the video, make sure I can keep them coming by subscribing below.

Sept. 27, 2023

Buying a Listing is on the rise!

Buying a Listing is on the rise!

Do you know sometimes real estate agents will "buy a listing?"  What does that mean?  Well, if a listing agent thinks that a home seller will list with what ever agent gives them the highest price for their home, it can be very tempting to give that home owner a very high price - a price so high, they know it's is very unlikely to work for the market.  This leads to unhappy sellers as the poorly set expectations about what is possible often leave sellers distrustful with their agent, and that is very bad!  

For more info on buying a listing and how to protect your self as a homeowner, please check out my video here!



Posted in Home Selling
Sept. 12, 2023

Make or Build a Cash Flow Spreadsheet for Investing In Properties

Making  a Cash Flow Spreadsheet for Investing in Real Estate

Hi!  I'm going to share some thoughts below the video, but if you'd like to get an overview of my thoughts AND see my spreadsheet in action, watch the video below!

Key Elements of any Cash Flow Spreadsheet

There's lots of room for debate here, but I think a good spreadsheet needs the following:

1) It needs to be simple. 

If it's complex, you won't use it.  Ultimately, my spreadsheet only uses 3-5 field for each property, which means I can fill it out very quickly for each property, so I can assess 10 properties in less than 45 minutes.   How does that help?  Well, out of 10 properties, about 7 or 8 aren't going to look good on paper, so now I can focus on just 2 or 3.  That save a lot of time.

2) You should track rent metrics.

Without a doubt, the hardest thing to know is the rent.  Landlords often have tenants below market, or the units are vacant.  If you're diligent about tracking rental information in your spreadsheet, you can use it to make good predictions.  I generally track it as $/sq foot/ month, which is a useful metric.

3) Make sure you're using the same assumptions

I make sure that my interest rates, percent down, and my "monthly costs" are all either the same or easy to configure.  This is both to keep me honest and make sure that my cash flow numbers are conservative.  Once you see a property, you can make more adjustments specific to that property, but for the initial screen, they should all be the same. 

4) Good on paper might be good, might not be good.

Some properties look good on paper.  Too good!  Maybe the rents are going to be lower than average, or turnover is high, or crime in the area is higher than average.  Maybe it's the building - a lot of cash intensive fixes coming due.  Whatever it is, things that look too good to be true usually are - so make sure you take a close look before buying.

Matt H

March 24, 2023

Everything You Need to Know about Slab Basement for Houses

When a listing says the basement is a Slab, what does that mean?

I get asked often about what a "slab basement" is when it appears in search listings.  A Slab basement is another way to say that there is no basement.  The home was built on a "slab" of concrete, and that slab is the entire foundation.  


Why are some homes on a Slab Foundation?

There are many reasons that homes are built on slab concrete foundations without basements.  Here are some of the reasons:

  • Soil doesn't support digging/basement construction.  In many parts of the country, there is very little dirt to put a foundation.  Some soils have too much clay or sand or are otherwise unstable to dig in, so instead they build on top of the surface with a slab foundation.
  • Cost.  The builder may simply have been trying to reduce the cost of the construction.  Basements are very expensive to build, and are not always a profitable investment for the builder.
  • Water.  If the house is close to the groundwater, digging a basement might just create a permanently wet basement.  In those cases, it is better not to dig at all, and just build on a slab of concrete. 

I'm sure there are others, but those would be the most common.  Whatever the reason, it should be noted that fixing such a thing is generally not practical.  Although slab basements are far less common in New England, in other parts of the country they are the dominant choice, showing that they can be fine houses just as they are - perhaps with a bit less storage. 

Are there special things about homes with Slab Concrete Foundations?

There are a couple.  Obviously, your heating and cooling equipment won't be in the basement, and is often somewhere on the first floor, where it can be noisy. So check out where the equipment is.  Some homes today would put the equipment in the attic, and that reduces the noise factor.  Also, it's important to check for termites with slab homes, as often the sill of the home is quite close to ground level, and termites can be harder to spot if the home exterior sheathing is close to ground level. Lastly, if the home has forced hot water, check to see if the plumbing is buried in the slab.  Concrete and copper are not friends, and the pipes often leak after a generation or two, forcing the house to be re-plumbed.  

Should I Buy a Home With a Slab Basement?

Sure!  No reason not to.  However, you shouldn't pay the same about of money for a home with a slab basement as you would for a home with a typical basement - at least in areas where the majority of the homes have a basement!  Buyers prefer basements, if they can get them, and giving them up means your average buyer will pay less for the house.  Often significantly!  In a soft market, a slab basement could reduce the sale price of the house 10-15% from similar homes with full basements. 

Don’t Go Just Yet! More Information for you…

About Matt Heisler

Matt Heisler is a real-estate professional and owner of this website. He has been selling homes in MA for buyers and sellers for over 20 years. He is an expert in foreclosure purchases, short-sale purchases, short-sale sales, buy and hold investing, fix and flip investing, and of course traditional residential home sales. He is happy to take questions as they pertain to real estate on Title V, Radon, Termites, Sump Pumps, Roofs, Foundations, Wells, Septic Systems, Cash-Flow, Staging, and a host of other housing issues. As a Vanderbilt University alumnus, he is proud to serve his local community.

*All information is posted in good faith and is assumed to be reliable, but may rely on third party information sources.

March 21, 2023

We've moved now Vanderbilt Properties

Important Changes coming! 



After helping thousands of people move across Massachusetts, we've done some moving and renovating ourselves!  




Matt Heisler