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It's a scenario you were hoping to avoid: After a long search, you finally located the perfect property—only to be outbid by another buyer. Multiple buyers competing for the same property can lead to a bidding war, and buying in a seller's market (where the demand for homes exceeds the available supply) increases the likelihood of getting into one. Let's look at a few strategies that you can use to increase your chances of victory should you find yourself in a bidding war.

Have your pre-approval letter ready

If you qualify, make sure that you have mortgage pre-approval before you start shopping for a home. Unlike pre-qualification, pre-approval offers a precise look at your approved mortgage amount. Essentially, it shows that you've done the work and are serious about purchasing. That may make a seller feel more confident in your offer as opposed to someone whose financing might fall through.

Make the highest offer

It shouldn't come as a surprise that being the highest bidder is the best way to win a bidding war. Just keep in mind that you may need to come up with that extra cash yourself—lenders will typically only finance loans in the amount that the home appraises for, not extra. Also, don't get carried away or throw caution to the wind. Offer more if you can, but don't overextend your budget so much that it puts you in a sticky situation. 

Write a personal letter to the seller

Many sellers love the idea of passing their home to a buyer who will love it as much as they do. Writing a personal letter costs nothing, but it can leave a lasting impression. Tell them that you can picture hosting family holidays in the dining room. Talk about why you want to raise your kids in the home. A letter can also give you a chance to explain a low offer, and you never know which seller might sympathize with the costs of childcare, medical bills, or just trying to get started as a young professional couple. 

Offer cash

We know this option isn't feasible for everyone, but if you can make a cash offer, that will almost always push your offer to the top of the pile. A cash sale will be appealing to the seller because it lowers the risk that the sale will fall through due to financing issues. It also helps the sale close faster since you're cutting out the middleman (i.e., the lender).  

Drop contingencies

Dropping (or at least negotiating) contingencies can strengthen your offer by allowing the transaction to go quicker and more smoothly for the seller. Nobody wants their house sitting on the market forever, and dropping contingencies from your offer helps the seller avoid those hurdles. However, it's important to keep in mind that dropping contingencies can be a major risk to you as the buyer, so be sure to discuss your plans with your agent first. 

Offer a bigger down payment

If you have to finance and can't make an all-cash offer, consider offering a bigger down payment instead—say, 20% instead of 10%. Making a larger payment upfront also means that less financing will be needed from the lender, which can work out if the bidding war increases the overall price of the property. If you try this strategy, make sure you bring documentation proving that you have the resources to back up your plans.  

Include an escalation clause

An escalation clause is an addendum to your purchase offer stating that you're willing to increase your bid if another buyer matches it. This tactic can prove to the seller that you're serious about getting the home. Just be sure that your escalation clause is tailored to fit your plan and budget.  

If you find yourself in the midst of a bidding war, you'll want an experienced real estate agent by your side. Your agent at the Masiello Group can help you navigate the ins and outs of each potential tactic, as well as guide you through the purchasing process in general.

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at


Renovating your home can be a massive undertaking—especially on top of buying, selling, and moving—so it's important to know whether the payoff will be worth your hard work and money spent. Ultimately, you want to make improvements that add enough value to increase the overall asking price of your home. Keep reading to find out which home renovations are most likely to get you a return on investment.

Add square footage, or improve what you already have

It shouldn't come as a surprise that increasing livable square footage will add major value to your home. Adding high-value space like another bedroom or bathroom or expanding a room like the kitchen will almost always pay off. But if you don't have the time, budget, or space to go bigger, you can always go better. Finishing a basement or attic has a potential ROI of 75%, and converting a porch into a four-season room can add up to $50 per square foot to the value of your home, depending on your local market.

Remodel your kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, so it makes sense to focus your renovation efforts there, making sure the space is functional and appealing. Some of the main features that buyers look for are center islands, walk-in pantries, and increased counter and cabinet storage space. However, sprucing up your kitchen doesn't have to be a major project—cosmetic updates like switching out fixtures/hardware (lights, faucets, cabinet handles) or redoing your backsplash can make a big impact too. A thoughtful kitchen remodel can get you a return anywhere between 52% and 76%.

Renovate your bathroom

Nobody would call the bathroom the heart of the home, but you can't deny that it's a pretty important part of your house. Making sure that your bathrooms are functional and sanitary should be the top priority. Beyond that, though, cosmetic updates like refreshing the hardware or redoing the tile can go a long way. If you want to go bigger, consider replacing your large fixtures with in-demand versions like a dual-sink vanity or an energy-efficient toilet. According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, homeowners can recover up to 57% of the cost of a bathroom renovation. 

Amp up your outdoor living space

Nothing beats the option to entertain or relax outdoors. A great outdoor living space can go a long way in increasing your home's value. A major addition such as a pool or an outdoor kitchen could be a slam dunk or a big risk depending on where you live, but adding or improving an outdoor space like a deck, porch, or patio is a good investment. For example, installing a classic wood deck can recoup anywhere from 65% to 80% of expenses. Other changes, like updating your fencing or adding a fire pit, are less of an undertaking that will see a good return.

Boost your home's curb appeal

You don't get a do-over on first impressions, so don't forget to include your home's curb appeal in your renovation plans. Upgrades that offer good potential returns include replacing the garage door (93%), replacing the windows (66-67%), replacing the front door (85%), and replacing the siding with vinyl or fiber-cement (67-68%). Adding manufactured stone veneer, even to part of your home's exterior, can recoup just over 91% of its cost.  

Replace attic insulation

It's not the flashiest, most exciting renovation, but replacing the insulation in your attic leads to savings on monthly energy bills—something that's undoubtedly attractive to homebuyers. Whether you go with batt, blown-in, foam board, or spray foam, if it's done correctly, attic insulation oftentimes recoups nearly its entire cost in added value. 

Replace or repair your roof

Nobody wants a roof that might leak or fall down. Much like insulating your attic, making sure your roof is sound isn't particularly exciting, but it will provide a good return on investment. If you want to go the extra mile, consider installing solar panels while you're up there. According to Zillow, homes with solar panels sell for approximately 4% higher on average than homes without solar energy.

Slap on a fresh coat of paint

Sometimes keeping it simple is the best way to go. A coat of fresh paint in a classic or contemporary color instantly transforms both the interior and exterior of your home, making it look crisp and clean. And considering that the average cost of a gallon of single-coat-coverage paint is only around $38, it's probably the biggest bang for your buck you can get.

If you're considering a home renovation, the most important thing you can do is your research. Depending on where you live and the cost of labor and materials, some renovations will add more value to your home than others. Still, buyers are likely to pay more for a property that's well-kept and move-in ready, with modern updates. Your agent at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group can help you decide which renovations are likely to get you the best return on investment.

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at


Whether you're buying or selling, whether the property is residential or commercial, all real estate transactions have one thing in common: a contract. The goal of a closing contract, or purchase contract, is to protect both the buyer and the seller by ensuring that all expectations are clear. Keep reading to find out what 7 things you don't want to forget in your closing contract.   

Basic Legal Requirements

Like any contract, real estate contracts need a few essential elements to be considered legal (e.i., enforceable in court). A lot of these elements are things that will seem obvious—the correct names and addresses of all parties and properties involved, the seller being the legal owner of the property, both parties being legally competent to enter a contract, just to name a few. However obvious as they may seem, you don't want your contract to be without them! It's worth your time to double-check these little things—trust us!

Price and Financing Terms

Something else that seems obvious but that you wouldn't want to forget is the money aspect of the agreement. That includes the agreed-upon price of the property, as well as how it will be supplied by the buyer (paid full in cash, a new or existing mortgage, any type of loan, etc.). A contract might also include earnest money requirements, which is a fee used to confirm the contract. Earnest money typically ends up going towards the down payment.    

Closing Cost Details

Any real estate contract should also address the terms of closing costs, specifically who's responsible for paying what. Closing costs are typically expenses that aren't included in the property price; for example, escrow fees, title insurance, transfer tax, notary fees, etc. Your contract should cover whether the buyer or the seller will be covering closing costs or if they will be split up between both parties. Some consider it standard practice for one party to cover costs, while in certain circumstances, splitting them may be more likely. If you're not sure where the money is coming from, don't hesitate to ask. Because it may be from you! 

What's Included in the Sale

Certain items may be displayed when a property is staged, but that doesn't necessarily mean that all of those items will be included in the sale. That means things like appliances and light fixtures but also some items that you may not have considered, like window treatments, bathroom fixtures, and heating and cooling equipment. Sellers should make sure that excluded items are carefully outlined in the contract, and buyers—if you want something specific, make sure you negotiate for it.  

Disclosure of Health Risks and Defects

Most states have strict laws requiring sellers to disclose any known defects on the property, especially if they may impact the property's safety and value. Whether or not sellers are required to actively search for defects can vary state by state, and some places may require sellers to search for certain defects but not others. A few commonly disclosed items include lead paint, termite damage, and the presence of radon gas. These things could have serious impacts on your home sweet home (or even your decision to buy it at all), so you should make an honest effort to find out all you can.


A contingency is a condition added to the purchase offer for a piece of property. Generally, a contingency will allow the buyer to default—or walk away from the agreement—if the conditions laid out in the contingency aren't met. While there are many different types of contingencies, some common ones include allowances for appraisal, financing, home inspection, and title report. If you aren't sure what contingencies you may need for a certain property, your real estate agent can help. Taking full advantage of these contingencies can make a big difference in your home buying experience! And offering additional contingencies may be just what it takes to sell.

Important Dates

A few dates that you want to make sure are agreed upon are an expiration date if the offer is not accepted, a closing date that marks the conveyance of the property's title from seller to buyer, and a window of time during which the buyer may withdraw while the contract is still in negotiation, as long as notice is provided. We highly recommend keeping these dates at the front of your mind so that they don't sneak up on you—even if that means sticky note reminders on every mirror, door, and window you have. The last thing you want is for a milestone to hit without you feeling confident in your decision.

Working out a closing contract can feel like a daunting task. But remember—your real estate agent is there for you! At The Masiello Group, we expect our agents to be in your corner and come armed with all the knowledge and experience you'll need to do it right. 

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at


If you've heard anything about the housing market over the past year, it might sound something like the gladiator games of ancient Rome—ruthless and not for the faint of heart. But times are changing, and as we move into fall 2022, we can expect some shifts in the market. Here are 6 things that you need to know about the new housing market.

After a long upward climb, prices start to moderate with slower appreciation

Well, a bit! According to, during August, one in five sellers dropped their asking price, which indicates that the annual appreciation rate is slowing. That's about 20%, which doesn't seem like a lot, but at this time a year ago, that same number was 11%—meaning that the number of sellers lowering their asking price has almost doubled. While not all economists agree on the rate at which appreciation will slow, this trend indicates an oncoming change.

Demographics continue to apply pressure

Part of what's made the market so competitive lately is the relatively low number of houses available for sale. This is an issue that's been years in the making and it's largely due to two demographic trends. The first is millennials—62 million of them—entering the housing market to shop for starter homes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also have 55 million baby boomers who are living longer, healthier lives than previous generations—and not leaving the housing market. Both groups competing for the same limited inventory has put unprecedented pressure on the market as a whole. This is in addition to home building dropping off by 40% in the last 10 years. 

But options ARE increasing (a bit)

Because of that demographic pressure, demand has been higher than supply, creating an environment that's great for sellers but a challenge for buyers. While the current number of homes available isn't high per se, demand has been lowered by economic uncertainty—meaning that houses aren't getting snapped up as quickly, creating more options for buyers. 

Bidding wars slow down

The "bidding war" has been a major feature of the housing market for the past few years. But because demand has lowered recently, there isn't as much cause for multiple buyers to compete over the same property. While we are still in a seller's market overall, some equilibrium is returning to the market.

Mortgage rates

We probably don't have to tell you that mortgage rates are higher right now, what with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage creeping towards 6%. What we can tell you is that some relief for buyers may be in sight. Experts from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, and others have projected that mortgage rates will begin to stabilize in the coming months. By this time next year, average rates could even dip below 5%. In addition, Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMS) are making a return, and they will serve to lower rates as well—by offering lower start rates for 3-5-7 year adjustable rate loan options.

Rest easy—it's not 2008

You may have heard some speculation about whether the recent economic downturn (and in particular the issues with the housing market) will result in another housing bubble crisis à la 2008. It's a scary thought, but rest assured that the factors that created the 2008 housing bubble aren't present in today's market. Required credit scores for buyers are much higher, mortgage underwriting standards are much more stringent, and there's no oversupply of housing as there was in '08—among other things.   

The bottom line

Whether you're buying or selling, confident or uncertain, a local real estate agent is still your best bet for navigating a changing market. Agents from The Masiello Group can provide you with the expert insights that you need to come out on top, whether the market is stacked against you or not.

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at


You've been dreaming of homeownership, have spent years preparing financially, and spent months searching for the perfect home. You finally found it, negotiated a price, and signed a purchase and sale agreement with the seller. Now, the seller wants to call things off—years of dreaming, months of planning, and piles of paperwork, all for nothing.

It doesn't often happen; however, it can be heartbreaking when it does! Why would a real estate seller have a sudden change of mind, and do you have any legal recourse?

In this post, we'll examine some of the reasons a seller might back out of a Purchase and Sale Agreement, the impact of a seller backing out of the deal, and what recourse you might have.

First, Take a Breath and Consider the Situation

Before you run out and lawyer up, take a breath and consider the situation on a human level. If your finances are in order, you've been upfront and interested in moving forward emotions, or a situational change may be behind the seller's change of heart.

Try to determine the seller's reason for putting their home on the market. For example, if the sellers were planning to move into a senior facility because one of them was seriously ill. But they made a miraculous recovery; there is little you can say to convince them to sell.

However, sometimes the seller just doesn't trust you to make good on the deal and has second thoughts. Maybe they have a reason to believe you can't make the down payment or get a mortgage approval, and they don't want to take their home off a hot market for long enough to find out. In this case, sit down and provide whatever evidence you need to allay their fears.

Another common situation is that the home is historically or personally significant emotionally (maybe it has been in the family for generations). The seller is concerned that you properly care for the home. Sit down with the seller and explain that you will honor the home's historical significance. Explain your plan to enhance the historical significance of the dwelling.

Sometimes, the seller got a better offer and decided they'd rather sell to that person. Yes, it's unethical, but it happens. Your legal solutions depend on where you are in the process.

Six Ways A Seller Can Walk Away From A P&S Agreement

If you have a verbal agreement, or the details in the purchase and sale are not met, a seller can walk away at any point. The P&S has legal value and backing out can be complicated. It's something most sellers and buyers want to avoid. Here are six examples of when a seller can walk away before closing:

  1. The contract has not been signed.
  2. A Standard contract provides for a 5-day attorney review period which provides a window for the seller, or buyer, to cancel.
  3. The seller has planted a contingency in the P&S, like a clause stipulating that they must find a replacement home before moving out.
  4. If the buyer doesn't stick to the terms of the agreement.
  5. If a buyer pushes the seller to do repair work that he is unwilling to do.
  6. Any unfortunate incident which turns their life around – like a seller getting sick.

If the deal is not finalized, it's easy for either party to back out. However, once a purchase and sale agreement are signed, backing out can have consequences for the seller.

The Consequences of Backing Out of a Signed Purchase and Sale

There are affects a seller faces when they back out without cause. They open themselves up to both legal and financial consequences.

A seller is subject to legal consequences if they back out of a deal after both parties sign a contract. The ball is in the buyer's court. They have a choice. They can sue to move forward with the transaction or withdraw their offer. Agents may also sue for breach of contract as they are at financial risk of losing their commission.

As a buyer, you have the option of suing for breach of contract. Judges often order the seller to sign over the deed and complete the sale. You can also sue for damages, but most buyers choose to sue for the property.

The seller is also subject to some serious financial consequences. The judge may allow the seller to keep the property, however, the seller will need to adjust the expenses incurred by the buyer during the entire period of house showing and legal work. They must also return any security deposit. The seller often also must pay the buyer's legal fees, along with their own, which could be a harsh penalty.

Create A Comprehensive Purchase and Sale Agreement

The purchase and sale is the contract that bears the details. A well-written purchase and sale contain clauses in clear language as to when a buyer or seller can back out of a sale without legal consequences.

One of the most frequently asked questions is if a seller can back out should they get a better offer from another potential buyer. A purchase and sale agreement protects you. Once an offer has been accepted and a contract signed, a seller can no longer accept another offer. That being said, it could happen, but the truth is that buyers often have more to lose, along with disappointment if a sale falls short because of a seller.

The purchase and sale agreement provides protection to both parties. Few legal options can provide an escape without penalties both legal and financial. A well-written and negotiated purchase and sale can certainly reduce the chances to back out of an agreement.


Northern New England Homes

The man-made scenery in Northern New England is nearly as eye-catching as the natural landscape. Whether you're a history buff or just appreciative of beautiful designs, the area's range of architectural styles is endlessly fascinating. Our real estate agents take a look at some of the more popular home styles and what makes them so compelling.

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Real Estate Myths

If you're planning to buy or sell a home, then you should be prepared to receive loads of advice from family, friends, and neighbors. When it comes to real estate transactions, everyone has their own unique perspective. While advice can be helpful and well-intentioned, it's important to weigh the advice based on experience. The average person is involved in a real estate transaction once every 5 to 7 years while the average Masiello agent manages 11 transactions every year. These uneven experiences have given rise to numerous industry myths.

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Learn the Advantages of an Accurate Real Estate Estimate and How to Get One

If you are considering the sale of your home, knowing your home's value is essential for pricing it accurately to get buyers interested. Whether you are considering a sale or just curious, it is always a good idea to keep on top of valuations, if for no other reason than to determine your ROI.

No matter what motivates you, having an accurate understanding of your home's estimated market value can come in handy. Today, there are several ways to do that, many of which are free and within reach online. However, some methods are better for getting an accurate real estate estimate than others. 

This post will compare working with a professional agent to get a real estate estimate of value versus sourcing the information online at a website like Zillow.

Finding A Real Estate Estimate On Zillow

In today's internet age, technology has given us the ability to perform many tasks ourselves. As buyers and sellers have become savvier, the first stop on the journey to buy or sell a home is the internet. 

Online tools and home value estimators are everywhere! While you have multiple platforms to choose from, one of the most popular is Zillow. But is a "Zestimate" as a Zillow estimate is known, accurate?

So, what is a Zestimate?

This is Zillow's version of an online home valuation platform and can give you an estimate on over 100 million homes all over the country. Zillow's algorithm automatically computes values. These are based on both public-submitted as well as user-submitted data points for each property.

Like many online value calculators, The accuracy of a Zillow Zestimate will vary widely based on several factors, including your location and how much data is available. 

While online sites like Zillow are helpful, you should never rely on them to make an accurate real estate estimate of valuation. Whether you are a buyer or a seller, you want accurate information to make an informed decision. 

Sites like Zillow have the potential to empower buyers and sellers. They have replaced the world of comparable sales and values that were once understandable only to real estate professionals. They give both buyers and sellers the ability to learn useful information about properties in their area, including their own.

Sites like Zillow do their best to provide accurate information as to the value of your home. However, Zillow is an automated system that is based on mathematical formulas and data analysis. It does not think for itself. It cannot account for variations – changes that can substantially affect the price of a home from any sort of "average."

When you are buying or selling, you cannot afford to be off on your real estate estimate by tens of thousands of dollars in your pricing or bidding!

How a Real Estate Professional Determines Value

While Zillow is fine if you are seeking a general idea of value, the fact is, analysis and a real estate estimate provided by a real estate professional will be more accurate. Real Estate professionals specialize in answering the question, "what is my home worth?" They do this for their clients by running a comparative market analysis. This consists of finding similar properties, or comps, that sold within the past 90 days and using this factual data to prepare their valuation.

The most accurate comp is a nearby home that is similar to yours in terms of square footage, bedrooms, and bathrooms. Ideally, the lot size is also similar. Once your REALTOR® finds a few comps in your area, they will average these figures to determine a baseline home value. 

Today, sellers need to take into consideration that home buyers begin their search for properties online. Assume your agent has provided you with a real estate estimate that values your home at $503,000. Most people will search for homes using $20,000 or $25,000 increments. 

That means listing your home at its market value of $503,000 could prevent your listing from being seen by buyers searching the $475,000 to $500,000 range. Asking $500,000 for your home in this instance might generate more traffic and maybe even a bidding war that can push your final number well above your expectations!

Why Accurate Pricing is Crucial

If your real estate estimate is too high, your home can sit on the market, even in a seller's market. Valuing your home too high can be a big problem. If your home stays on the market too long (over 30 days), it can become stigmatized. Buyers often get suspicious when they see that a home has been on the market for an extended period. They may think that there is something wrong with the property.

If that is the case, the seller may need to significantly reduce the price, sometimes below market value, to generate interest. However, pricing your home below market in an attempt to generate interest and multiple bids can also backfire. Granted, in a hot seller's market, like we're living in right now, that strategy can be effective. However, pricing too low can lead buyers to assume that your property is only worth the list price.

While sites like Zillow can be helpful in the information gathering stage, your best bet is to work with a real estate professional. They can help you to price your home accurately and list it for close to the figure. When you are in doubt, turn to your local real estate professional. They understand your market and will help you cut through the haze to pinpoint the right price for your home.


New England Vacation Home

If you love to travel, you've probably vacationed in some spectacular places that hold special memories. Perhaps the ocean views, exotic cuisine, relaxing atmosphere, or abundance of nature make you want to return again and again to this special place.

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New England Airbnb

More travelers than ever before are skipping staying at hotels, instead choosing to rent rooms or entire homes from Airbnb hosts. With Northern New England being such a beautiful place for a getaway, the demand for Airbnb rentals in the area is often high. Becoming an Airbnb host is a great way to earn some extra income in your primary residence, meet new people from around the world, or even turn your second home into an income generator whenever you're not using it. Our real estate agents have the details to help you decide if becoming a host is right for you

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