Paying full price for homes — in cash.
Or in the case of a mortgage, agreeing to shell out tens of thousands of dollars over asking price.
Waiving inspections, and getting deals done quickly and seamlessly.
In a state where the median selling price for a single-family home is now more than $500,000 — nearly $700,000 in Middlesex County — and where available inventory and time on the market are at record lows, these are just a few tactics recent buyers say they were able to use to get winning bids.
Over the past month, the Daily News spoke with four parties who found a way to get the home they wanted.
Amy Jakubielski lives in Norwich, Connecticut. She moved there from Massachusetts a decade ago, but wanted to return. She was open to where in the Bay State she wanted to live, which gave her Realtor, Melissa Kaspern of RE/MAX Executive Realty in Holliston, some flexibility.
Jakubielski, a first-time buyer, began house hunting in early May, touring 10 to 15 homes. She first put in an offer for a home in Blackstone, then another in Millis. Neither was accepted.
Her third offer for a home, this time in Milford, proved to be a charm.
Originally, she wasn’t planning on making an offer for the Milford home on the same weekend she visited, but she also knew she had to act fast.
“In this market, you have to move quickly if you see something you like and will work for you,” she said.
For her first offer in Blackstone, Jakubielski didn’t agree to waive an inspection — but the winning bidder did, she said. Her agent, like many others, don’t generally recommend waiving inspections, but said that if Jakubielski wanted to, she needed to find a home in which she was comfortable to do so.
Jakubielski decided that was the case when she found the Milford home> She agreed to waive an inspection, while also paying $60,000 over asking price, including a 10% down payment. And she did it just hours after touring the house.
“I bought this house at the top of my price range,” Jakubielski said, saying she feels lucky she was able to have her third offer accepted.
At the end of this month, Jakubielski will close on the home, and plans to move in next month.
“It was a lot of quick learning,” she said of the process as a first-time homebuyer. Having a real estate agent to offer advice and look for noteworthy features, such as when the last time the roof was updated and the status of key elements like central air conditioning, was crucial.
Her advice: Get a real estate agent to help you through the process, and be patient — don’t sacrifice too much for a home just to get your offer accepted.
“It all comes back to working with a really strong agent and how to make your offer more appealing,” Jakubielski said. “Some (sellers) are motivated by cash, some are motivated by waiving appraisals, and some sellers have already purchased their new home and are looking for someone to close quickly.”
The cash offer
After Dana Aniello attended an open house for a condo one recent Friday in Uxbridge, she offered to pay its $300,000 asking price right then and there in cash. The seller’s agents told her they would wait until Monday to potentially accept the offer.
Many others were interested in the condo. In fact, Aniello waited 90 minutes just to get inside for the open house, she said.
But it wasn’t the first time Aniello, who at the time lived in Upton, had been in the home.
The day before, Aniello and her sister drove by the condo in the Juniper Hill development to make sure they’d be able to find it the following day. The sellers happened to be moving out that day, and after striking up a conversation with them, Aniello and her sister were offered a tour.
They bonded with the sellers, who like them had three sisters and a brother in their family. So when Aniello put in her offer, she agreed to waive the inspection, to move in within nine days and wrote a letter to the sellers describing how much she wanted the property.
While Aniello was the only one who brought cash to the table, the selling agents fielded several other offers, some higher than hers. But when of those higher offers to buy fell through, the sellers’ agents returned to Aniello and accepted hers.
“I was only really able to (have my offered accepted) because, I swear to God, I offered cash and waived the inspections,” she said.
She bought the condo on Feb. 1, and agreed to move in by Feb. 12.
It was stressful, but she’s glad she did it, Aniello said.
“I felt the stars aligned this time, because I probably couldn’t have gotten the place without all those factors,” she said.
Aniello, who has owned Dance Works Academy in Upton for 16 years, said she wasn’t considering moving until this spring, but is glad she made her decision earlier because she probably couldn’t afford anything on the market now.
When she put her Upton home on the market in March 2020 — just before the statewide, virus-related shutdown — it took until September to sell it, she said. But her real estate agents, Robyn Nasuti and Sean Terrell of ERA Key Realty Services, went above and beyond to get a deal done, she said. Aniello accepted an offer $5,000 under her asking price, but is satisfied.
“I love (my condo), it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,” she said.
Her advice: Be quick to put in an offer when you find a house you like and, if possible, offer cash and waive inspections. Having real estate agents to make your offer more appealing also helps.
A unique taste
When Melinda Piccirilli Kochman and Ken Kochman put their Las Vegas home up for sale, their real estate agent said it was “too unusual” for the market.
More buyers are interested in basic homes, Piccirilli Kochman said their agent told them. In fact, it took nearly six months to sell their quirky Vegas home after putting it on the market in June and selling it in November.
“It’s just as crazy (in Las Vegas as it is in Massachusetts) for houses that are $500,000 or less, but then once you get to $700,000 and 800,000 — where our house was — it’s totally different. There’s not as many buyers,” she said.
After selling the home, the couple and their 19-month-old daughter, Everly, moved into a rental property they owned in Waltham.
“Nobody is going to accept an out-of-state offer here, no matter how strong your financing is,” she explained.
Even with a high price range of $1 million to $1.2 million, the couple still had trouble finding homes.
“Everything we looked at was gone instantly,” Piccirilli Kochman said. “But what you were getting for what we’re paying was so crazy. We were so worried we’d have to settle because you have to decide so fast.”
Their Realtor, Angela Harkins of Lamacchia Realty, suggested in March that they check out a house in Nashua, New Hampshire, which wasn’t originally what they were planning.
The mint green, $1.1 million Victorian home was built about 20 years ago, and had a bright purple door with matching mint and purple columns, leading inside to brightly colored walls, skylights and a small theater.
“It’s just a really unique house — when my husband and I walked in we were like, ‘Oh my God,’” Piccirilli Kochman said. “It’s not everybody’s cup of tea, and I think that’s why we got lucky. This house had also been on the market for only around a day.”
The couple put in an offer after seeing it that day, offering to pay the full asking price with a 60% down payment. They also agreed to take the house without requiring the sellers to replace some broken appliances and being flexible on a closing date, said Piccirilli Kochman.
Negotiations took a couple of days, and thankfully, no other offers came in during that time, she said. Because of that, they decided not to waive an inspection.
“I feel like we got super, super lucky,” she said.
Her advice: Put your best offer forward, but realize that with unique homes there can be less competition.
“It can feel super stressful, and you just have to keep in mind that the only thing you can control is your offer,” Piccirilli Kochman said. “You cannot control how many offers they’ll get or if they’ll pick someone because they wrote a nice letter — you just have to come with your best offer and be as appealing as you can.”
The limited-time offer
After Chelmsford residents Ben and Michelle Parks welcomed a third child to their family in February, they began looking for a bigger home. They reached out to Harkins, from whom they bought their home five years earlier.
Much had changed in the Massachusetts housing market in that time.
“We were kind of blown out of the water in the beginning, so as we put more offers in, we went higher and higher,” Ben Parks said.
The couple began touring houses last summer at the height of the pandemic, with many visits limited to 15-minute appointments to tour the entire home, he said. They made about six offers, though they thought their first one — which was $30,000 over the asking price — would be accepted.
“We weren’t even close,” he said. The Parks also wanted to arrange for home inspections, which is something they noticed nearly everyone else was forgoing.
“We felt like, if we ever want to get a house, we can’t do a home inspection,” he said.
It was a big conversation point in their house-hunting process when it came to what they were willing to tolerate, he said. The next time they put in an offer, it was $50,000 over the asking price, and still another was $70,000 over. All houses they toured had at least 10 offers behind them, he said, and in one case someone paid $150,000 over asking price to get a deal.
One night, a home in Groton was posted online. By the next morning, the Parks had an appointment to see it, said Ben Parks. They put in an offer right after the appointment, offering to pay $100,000 over asking price to get it.
But they also told the sellers that their offer would expire in six hours, said Parks.
The house was on the market for less than 24 hours; by 8 p.m. that day, they were under agreement for the home, he said.
“That was the only way we got the house. All the other ways … it was just becoming bidding wars,” he said.
The family moved into their new home in May with a week to move everything in, he said. They ended up selling their Chelmsford home for $95,000 over asking price after putting it on the market in April, although Parks said it wasn’t all about who offered more cash.
Harkins was a “safety blanket,” said Parks.
“We wouldn’t have a new house if it wasn’t for our real estate agent” he said. “Having a real estate agent to lean on for help was a major aid in the process.”
His advice: If you plan to move into a new place, make sure you’re in it for the long haul. For the Parks, they don’t plan on going anywhere for the next 30 years, he said.
“It’s not the end of the world if the market flips, because we don’t plan on going anywhere,” he said.
Having a real estate agent was also invaluable, he said, especially when it came to questions about forgoing home inspections and what Harkins was seeing in the market.
“We’re super happy in our new house and I definitely feel like it was the right decision,” he said.
Lauren Young writes about business and pop culture. Reach her at 774-804-1499 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @laurenwhy__.