Home Buying in Boston>Question Details

thantthiha, Home Buyer in Boston, MA

International Student Looking to Buy property for home/investment in Boston. I moved to Boston about a year ago, now deciding whether I should get a

Asked by thantthiha, Boston, MA Wed Jul 18, 2012

permanent place and not sure where to begin. Apparently there are many realtors and real estate firms in Boston so if anyone has good suggestions or advice I would be very grateful. Please note that I am a foreigner and a cash buyer, however, I have a relative who is a Permanent US Residence and would be involve in the process if I were to buy a house in Boston.

Help the community by answering this question:


Hi Thantthiha,
You are right; there are many real estate firms and agents to choose from. So it is recommended you interview a few of them before you select the one to work for you.
The relationship with your agent and how comfortable you feel with someone includes empathy and trust in addition to being a very capable and experienced agent. During the purchasing process you are going to have frequent contact with your chosen agent for as long as you search for the right investment property.
Let me point out that Realtors are real estate agents but not all real estate agents are Realtors. So you are better off hiring a Realtor agent.
And yes, you are paying that agent’s commission. “We get what we pay for”. In most cases sellers have already factored in the buyer’s agent commission so it will not be an “out of pocket” expense for you. But the important fact is that your agent works for you and to protect your interests even when you are paying him/her indirectly through the seller’s commission.
There are other professionals involved in purchasing real estate (attorney, home inspector, etc.) but your real estate agent is the guide and coordinator of the whole thing.
So good luck choosing the best Realtor for you and great returns in your investment.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 19, 2012
Each part of Boston has specialists that serve specific areas and even specific buildings. You might look for a specialist that handles the area(s) you like. Brookline, although not actually Boston, might also be a place to look. My sister handles many Longwood Towers units. (the link below is to the rental page, but there are units for sale.)

You should consider things like schools, taxes, rental and re-sale possibilities, in case you choose to sell or rent sooner than you plan. While those things may not be important to you, they could be important to people who you want to sell to.

(Please note: when you choose an answer as a Best Answer, or at least give a thumbs up, it helps those who answer questions here.)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 21, 2012

You've received a number of good responses here and now I'd like to offer you my suggestions on how best to proceed:

1. An Educated Home Buyer is a Successful Home Buyer. I offer my first-time home buyers a "Home Buying 101" course free of charge in the privacy of their home. It's a fun, informative time where you learn all the ins and outs of buying real estate.

2. When Selecting a Realtor, Check His References. When I look to hire a service provider of any sort I like to hear what his former clients have to say about him. I invite you to check my recommendations here on Trulia and see how satisfied they've been with my advice, support and ability to always find the right property.

Please call me at 617-899-3162 to sign up for your own home-buying tutorial or just to discuss your needs.

I look forward to working with you.

Michael Pallares, Realtor, ABR
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
Hello Thanthiha,

Buying in many cases might be the best and less expensive option if you plan on living in the Boston area for the long term and/or keeping the property as an investment.

If you are just starting your search, it would be good idea to meet you and your relative for coffee/tea, answer any questions you may have, go over your Real Estate needs and goals, the management of the greatest asset to building long term wealth, the buying process, and what you can expect each step of the way.

I have a full library of educational materials from seminars I have taught on the home buying process, buying a condo, investing in Real Estate, becoming a landlord, ect. and would be happy to forward them to you.

Here is the link to a very informative website:


If purchasing a condo as an investment, Boston City Properties is the #1 office in all of Massachusetts for volume of apartment rentals according to 2010-2012 MLS statistics – and an agent in our rental division can get your condo rented out asap.

Please call or email me if you have any questions or need additional assistance,


Lisa Marie
617.595.7074 (mobile)
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
Investing in Boston real estate is a very smart move. We have one of the strongest rental markets in the nation and weathered the soft real estate market better than others.

But, the NUMBER 1 reason you should invest your cash into real estate, is because interest rates are so low! If you put 300k into a CD at 2% (if you can find a CD for 2%) for 12 months you'll net about 6k at the end of the year.

However if you take the same 300k and put it into real estate you'll see that 6K in 3 months !

I don't usually advise buying a condo as an investment, but in your case, being out of the country, it is probably the best choice as 85% of the management will be taken care of. You'll be responsible for whatever happens in the unit and collecting the rent.

The problems with investing in condo units are assessments and having only one rental income. For example if you own a four family and someone stops paying the rent you're only losing 25% of your rental income as opposed to 100%.

Either way good luck and have fun.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
Hello -
To decide if you should buy a place I would first ask how long you are planning to stay, and would you want to keep the property when you leave - as a rental.

Your first step should be to find a buyer's agent. Once you have a Realtor working for you, you'll have a much clearer picture. Without a hired professional, you'll be provided with a lot of conflicting information.

Feel free to interview a few agents and work with someone you like and trust. This forum is a great place to start looking for someone.

You may find some useful advice on my blog, and learn more about the role of a buyer's agent. http://www.MyAgentRuthLerner.com.

Feel free to contact me with more questions. Hope this helps!

Ruth Lerner, MBA, Realtor
William Raveis Real Estate & Home Services
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
I would be interested in hearing about your long term goals so I could guide you in the right direction. Knowing these goals would help determine what might be the best next move for you. I just sold a property in the Fenway to an International student and I think she could tell you that I tried to make it as painless as possible for her and her dad. Please let me know if I can help in any way. My cell is 617-797-0056.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
Give me a call anytime. I would be more than happy to help you out. Thank you.

Carey T. Hansen
"Your Real Estate Agent today, tommorow and into the Next Generation"

NextGen Realty
1243 Commonwealth Ave.
Allston Ma 02134
Phone: 617-548-7236
Fax : 888-875-6973
Licensed Real Estate Professional
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Aug 9, 2012
The biggest and best piece of advice: Hire an exclusive buyer broker. You are right, there are thousands of real estate agents and hundreds of agencies so start by narrowing it down to the type of agent you should be hiring.

Exclusive Buyer's Agent: A licensed professional who does not take listings (therefore has nothing to sell to you). They are focused on finding you the property you want for the best market price not steering you towards properties either they or their agency represents. In hiring an exclusive buyer's agent you will not have to worry whose interests they are looking out for throughout the entire purchase process.

After you have identified a handful of exclusive buyer agents interview them about their experience, knowledge and strategy.

Good luck!

Massachusetts Premier Buyer Brokerage
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 30, 2012
Hi Thantthiha,

I agree with interviewing a few agents prior to choosing one. Be sure to ask about their experience in the area and their knowledge of real estate as investments, as it seems you are purchasing this property as potentially being both a home and/or an income-producing asset.

When you do find someone you like, it is important that you sit down with them and go over all of the paperwork. There are a handful of "buyers agent" firms out there, but the fact of the matter is any agent you work with should be explaining agency disclosure to you and having you sign a buyer's representation agreement, meaning the agent is working with your best interests in mind.

The most important piece of all of this is that you are comfortable with who you end up hiring. There are many fancy titles out there, from Realtor to Certified Buyer's Representatives...none of these matter if you can't trust and have an honest conversation with your agent and if they aren't able to give you the time and attention you deserve.

Hope this helps,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jul 23, 2012
Thank you all for your detailed answers and support! As suggested, my next move would be to contact a few Realtors and plan my next steps from there. Since I'm a foreigner and a student, I'll need a one-stop company which can handle property management such as rent collection, book-keeping as well as handle tax related matters in compliance to state/federal tax regulations. But I'm assuming that would be later on in the process? Any suggestion of such companies and their charges? I am quite flexible on my timeframe for purchase as I am currently living on a lease-term which goes until next year May. I just wanted to understand more regarding the housing market and purchasing processes before I make an educated decision.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jul 21, 2012
Hello Thantthiha,

Buying a property right now is great because you could find a great deal at a great cost. Do you have any idea of where in Boston you would like to buy a place? Also keep in mind that if you decide to leave the state you could easily get it rented or re-sell it and get your money worth.

If any questions please call or e-mail me at anytime.
Mario @ 857-334-5827
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 19, 2012

Buying is an excellent idea in the current market. The market is still close to it's floor, but things are looking up! You are correct about there being many firms in Boston, so you should do research to find the one that best fits your needs.

I would love to work with you and your relative to help you find a great home. It would be helpful for us to speak to narrow down what neighborhood and price range you're considering. My office is located in the heart of Boston's Back Bay, and my schedule is quite flexible. There are many listings available, and I could set up your search immediately.

Please feel free to contact me at your convenience!

Web Reference: http://EricRollo.raveis.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jul 19, 2012
I am the best equipped to help. http://Www.nemoves.com/kenzo. Call at your conveniece. Thanks Kenzo 617 233 9651
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
We have a quaint commercial/residential 3 unit building (1 office-commercial and 2 possible 3 residentals)in the North End of Boston for sale. Please feel free to be in touch with us or if you are already working with an agent, please have them in touch with us.

Best of luck to your possible ventures!

Realty Team Connection
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
Contact me at your convenience. Sincerely yours

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012

There are many opportunities here. Which school will you be attending? Are you interested in a condo, home or multi family?

Cambridge,Brookline, Newton and of course Boston proper are all excellent options that are great places to live and will retain their values. If you have any questions let me know.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
First, buying is a great idea, especially in Boston.
Second, you will be able to live in your place without any fear of higher rents or eviction.
Last, you will be able to lease it easily after you finish school, knowing very well that rents will keep on getting higher in Boston.
Also, easy purchase process since you are buying in cash.
Please feel free to call me to schedule a meeting to discuss the specs of your purchase. I do have experience with many happy International investors in Boston.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
Hello. Irish born here. Been here for 24 years. Bought my first investment property in 1992. Have been a developer, investor and landlord. Now a real estate agent at Re/Max Metro on Newbury St. I have loads of experience around Boston. Would love to spend time with you. You can reach me at jamesfurlong20@gmail.com or 617-620-0669. Thanks
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
I have been working with a lot clients from oversea in buying properties for residence or investment. I would like to serve you as well .
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jul 18, 2012
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