Posted by Marie Presti on 12/21/2017


During the holidays, as throughout the year, getting cash from an ATM is normal for many people. ATMs are available 24 hours a day and they’re located in bank branches, convenience stores, grocery stores, malls, airports, sports venues and on street corners.46024154-250.jpg

Unfortunately, the convenience aspect can compromise personal safety, especially if you are distracted or not paying attention. Planning for an ATM withdrawal and applying common sense can help you avoid trouble.

  • Be aware of your surroundings throughout the entire transaction, like people sitting in a nearby parked car or someone offering to help you. In Newton, Mass., where The Presti Group is based, hundreds of ATMs abound. Although they're mostly owned by reputable companies like Bank of America, there are some sketchy-looking models out there. Don't ever use a dusty, generic ATM in the back of a store, or someplace else out of site. Always make sure you use one that's in full view, as thieves are less likely to install a camera to record your card number and PIN. The safest ATMs are affiliated with banks. 
  • Safeguard your PIN. Don’t share it with anyone. Don’t write it down. Don’t use your birthdate, last four digits of your phone number or other obvious numbers.
  • If there are other people at the ATM to make a withdrawal, shield the keypad when entering your PIN number.
  • Keep your car doors locked and windows raised, except for your driver’s window, when using a drive-up ATM.
  • Minimize the time spent at the ATM by being prepared with your card ready, what you plan to do and do not count your money until you are in a safe place away from the ATM.
  • Take your receipt with you and destroy it if you decide to discard it.
  • Be aware that some thieves use skimming devices to steal account and PIN numbers. If something doesn’t look “just right”, consider finding another machine to use.
  • Especially at night, pay attention to locations with adequate lighting and being visible from the street. Don’t compromise your safety just because it is convenient.
  • After you have your money, pay attention to see if someone might be following you. If you are concerned, go to a nearby police or fire station or well-trafficked business and call the police.
  • If you feel uneasy during a transaction, cancel it, remove your card and LEAVE.

There may be a time in the not too distant future when we don’t have a need for cash anymore. Until that time, paying attention to simple safety precautions can help protect us during the holidays and throughout the year.

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Posted by Marie Presti on 11/21/2017

Waltham ranch in beautiful quiet neighborhood.  Click below to view the aerial video. $524,900.  Offers due Wed 11/22 2pm.

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Posted by Marie Presti on 11/20/2017

 Monthly Vlog: Planning a Holiday Party? The Presti Group Can Help

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Posted by Marie Presti on 10/9/2017


 Zillow has been testing the market out with a program called Instant Offers, which some of you may have heard of by now. Zillow is claiming this program is a quick way for someone to sell their house to investors — all with no prep, no waiting, and no uncertainty. It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? So I looked into it, and there are pitfalls.

This program is not available in all markets yet, but I found out that Instant Offer only showcases real offers, if a large Zillow investor is ready to buy the home and not an actual person who would live there. There are many other things you must understand before you determine if this service is right for you. The price the investors will offer you is based on the data that Zillow has on record. This data usually comes from the assessor's office of your local municipality. Most of the time, this information is right, but many times it’s not. In fact, in the past year, I’ve had only one out of eight properties listed accurately on the site. Either the lot size or the square footage was wrong. Or there were too many or too few bathrooms. In several cases, important features, like a garage, fireplace, and central air were not listed. Of course, these missing elements will sway investors’ offers. The bottom line: Make sure you know the real market value of your home before you consider selling.

Investors scouring Zillow’s site will also look at a ‘zestimate’ before making their offer. According to Zillow, the Boston market ‘zestimate’ has a median error percentage of 6.1 percent.  Let's look at the month of August, as the most recent example of updated figures. According to the Greater Boston Association of Realtors,® the median sale price of a single-family home (in their jurisdiction) during that month was $610,000. That equates to a potential error of $37,210. Few of us can afford that kind of mistake!  

In The Presti Group’s market, Newton, Mass., the error rate is even higher.The year-to-date median sale price of a single-family home there is $1,295,000. With the Zillow error rate of 6.1 percent, the zestimate could be potentially off by $79,000. Maybe even more. Illustrating this point, one of our most recent listings was priced at $749,900. Zillow’s ‘zestimate’ listed the property at $802,000. I knew this was too high a price, as the house was in rough shape. We worked with the seller to fix up the place a bit, staged it, took professional photos, and executed quite a bit of online marketing. As a result, we got substantial traffic into the house in just its first week on the market. We received six offers and the house sold for $100K more than the original listing. Had the owners accepted an Instant Offer on Zillow, they would have washed at least $50,000 down the drain, because of the condition the property was in to start with. By using a Realtor®, they were able to use the complete services provided by The Presti Group to put the seller in the catbird’s seat.

While Zillow can give you a general idea of what's out there, it doesn't know the local market conditions, the property, neighborhood, or features of the house.  And it can’t help you decide to target a large investor or a first-time homebuyer. Or negotiate and advocate on your behalf. Most importantly, “Instant Offer” buyers may try to rent it out or fix it up and flip it for a profit. So they may not even live in the house and care for it the way that you did.

So when all is said and done, whom would you trust with one of the most important assets in your life? A national website that uses algorithms to compute a home’s value? Or a local real estate pro who knows the insides and outsides of the market and has the negotiating chops to get you the best price? I know what I would do. But whatever method you choose, don’t sell yourself short.

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Posted by Marie Presti on 8/7/2017

Each month, The Presti Group will be bringing you a vlog that covers all things real estate. We hope these are helpful!

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