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THE LATEST HAPPENINGS
ALL THE BERKSHIRE REAL STATE NEWS THAT IS FIT TO TYPE

Officials in Berkshire are working with marketing companies to change the perception of the Berkshires in order to position it as an attractive place in which to live and work. It is hoped that this will strengthen house prices and spur business growth.

There’s no doubt that since 2008, conditions for those looking to buy and sell homes – as well as those working in the real estate industry – have been challenging. However, over the past couple of months, there have been various reports of increasing home sales and interest in real estate across the Berkshires. Life is improving in the Berkshires, and a new marketing strategy will help maintain this.

Making Berkshire stand out

This week, a survey was sent out to Berkshire residents, business owners, students and previous visitors, asking them to specify what makes the area stand out to them. Surveys were also sent to a further 43,000 people, including Berkshire second home owners and potential tourists. The survey was devised and sent out by auditing company, 1Berkshire Strategic Alliance, with the aim of implementing a new marketing strategy for the area that would boost home sales, business and visits to the area.

A place to live, work and visit

“This is about the Berkshires as a place to live, work and go to college -- not just to visit," said 1Berkshire’s chief marketing officer, Lauri Klefos, who explained that the idea of the census was to get a proper insight into all aspects of life in the Berkshires. Klefos, who is also the president and chief executive officer of the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, hopes that a new strategy will spark business growth in the county through real estate transactions, tourism, and job creation.

1Berkshire will then look to develop a new brand for the area, working with Boston-based marketing company, ISM. "It may be a slogan, it may be a logo; whatever the plan, it will be a long-range strategy,” said Klefos.

Spur business growth

Business growth in the Berkshires has suffered since the onset of the financial crisis. Many companies have closed and jobs have been lost, and Massachusetts has earned itself an unwelcome reputation as being a tax burden. 1Berkshire’s chairman, Reggie Cooper, is confident that developing a new marketing strategy for the area will change these false perceptions. “There are people who still perceive Massachusetts as ‘tax-achusetts’ and that’s no longer the case. There are many other states who are more of a tax burden than us,” he said. It is true; many businesses have viewed Berkshire as a difficult place in which to start and run and business, thanks to high administration costs. A business seeking to start out would first have to think about rental costs and office insurance before even beginning to tackle business taxes; office insurance has had added value in such difficult times as any business would be looking for extra protection during a recession. These costs are therefore unavoidable for a business in any area. However, it has not been these costs that have proved the most crippling for businesses; it has been high local taxes.

However, these business conditions have since changed, as authorities sought to make life easier for companies struggling to operate during the recession. 1Berkshire’s new strategy will help to communicate the area’s business incentives, positioning it as an attractive place to live and work. “[The new strategy] will ensure that the business community thrives, that property values stay strong and services to the public are of the highest quality while we maintain our commitment to the natural beauty and amenities of the area," Cooper said.

Real estate strengthening

1Berkshire’s initiative is a reflection of recovering real estate prices across the Berkshires. Although recent reports have suggested that market performance varies between different parts of the county, the overall statistics indicate that 2013 is showing some strong and healthy growth. A new marketing strategy for the Berkshires will be a welcome asset to the real estate industry, particularly if it focuses on positioning the area as a good place in which to work; with job creation undoubtedly comes an increase in the number of sale and rental transactions. 1Berskhire has already promised that the new marketing strategy will create a simple, compelling message that will elevate the Berkshires from nearby competitive regions; any initiatives that will help to maintain the new-found strength of the property market are to be welcomed.

Anyone who has not received a survey can complete one online at www.1berkshire.com/survey




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New real estate data has shown that sales of single family homes in Berkshire have rebounded in 2012. This positive growth has carried over into 2013, with sales on the increase once again. Compared with January and February last year, overall property sales in Berkshire were up by a whopping 15 percent in the first two months of this year.

Perhaps this recent influx of buyers is down to people rushing to buy as a result of declining stock; the Berkshire County Board of Realtors has said that although sales are on the increase, there has been a 12 percent drop in the number of homes available on the market. As a result, it is now more difficult to find a so called “bargain home”. In the times when the American real estate market had bottomed out, bargains were a-plenty as repossession numbers soared; in some states, buyers were lucky enough to find homes advertised at just 50 percent of their market value. Now, it appears that these days are over; competition among buyers is fierce as people begin to find their feet again and there are fewer properties for them to fight over.

The same cannot be said for the higher end of the market. Local estate agents have explained how it is almost an opposite scenario; there are more homes available, but less buyers that are able to afford them. In 2012, sales of single family homes rose by 25 percent in the Berkshires, and sales and price gains were at their highest level since 2005.

Varied performance throughout the county

The real estate market in Berkshire seems to be hotting up once again. However, the picture is not the same throughout the state; The Massachusetts Association of Realtors and the Warren Group of Boston reported that,statewise, there was a five percent drop in the sales of single family homes in February this year compared with the same month last year. This was the first drop the state had seen in around a year and a half. This was due to a lack of available stock, owing to the fact that there were so many sales last year when prices were lower.

Berkshire has seen a huge rise in the value of single family homes within the last 12 months; prices have increased on average by 16.7 percent since the same time last year and now stand at $175,000. However, the performance of the industry was said to vary considerably between regions of Berkshire; in the north of the country there was a 20 percent rise, but in central Berkshire there was a four percent drop and in the south of the county prices dropped by 15 percent.

However, despite its poor performance in terms of real estate values, it is the south of the county that has the most to gain. Indeed, the drop in prices has led to an influx of buyers in this area; home sales in the south for January and February have risen by 34 percent when compared with the same two months of last year. Local real estate experts are expecting the market to pick up even further throughout the spring, as this is the time that people typically put their homes on the market.

More cautious

Many people did not protect their mortgages or their financial security prior to the financial crisis. As a result, when some homeowners found themselves without a job, they were unable to keep up with mortgage payments. This is what led to the influx of bank repossessions and cut-price deals that were available on the market. In turn, this did help to bring the market full circle, as many investors rushed to grab themselves a bargain while prices were still low. These days, people’s situations are starting to recover; those that could not previously afford to get on the housing ladder are finding themselves with a few more options now that the banks have increased lending. The second time around, people are being a lot more cautious; those that would have previously taken a risk are ensuring that they have adequate means in place to protect their health and finances should anything similar happen again. As a result the insurance industry has also seen an increase in the number of policy sales; there is a growing trend for people to request bundled insurance policies, which encompass home insurance, contents insurance and covering themselves on the mortgage in case of a critical or long term illness of injury. Slowly but surely, Berkshire’s real estate market is recovering – and this time it is coming back a lot stronger.




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KIPLINGER CONFIRMS HOUSING RECOVERY  CLICK HERE


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Check out what one Company is designing for their Employees  HERE



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"Perhaps the most bullish indicator for the U.S. housing market is Warren Buffett."   Read the article on BUSINESSINSIDER.COM

BUFFET


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Home building Surges ! WSJ.COM


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HOUSE FLIPPERS ARE BACK www.cnbc.com/id/49419503




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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- The long-battered housing market is finally starting to get back on its feet. But some experts believe it could soon become another housing boom. Read more HERE


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