Ernie Houde, a lifelong resident of Marlborough and the owner of Houde Real Estate, has been in the business for over 30 years now. I recently sat down with Ernie and asked him about his start in Real Estate, how the Real Estate market has changed in these past 30 years, why he started Houde Real Estate, and how he has involved himself in the community for over 30 years. We’re happy to be celebrating these 30+ years in Real Estate and look forward to many more at Houde Real Estate

What did you do before Real Estate?

Before Real Estate, after I got out of the Marines, I did landscaping. My father had a small landscaping business. I started my own landscaping company that ended up employing 84 people. We had 32 trucks and worked in three states. We did everything from irrigation, maintenance, construction, and snow removal. Our clients included people like Roger Remy, White Evans. Companies like Digital, we installed irrigation at Roger Williams Park in Rhode Ashland, old Boston City Hall.

Why did you get into Real Estate?

When I was in my 20’s, I bought my first house which was a three family. This led me to get my Real Estate license.  I started buying investment properties, and it just grew from there, I ended up managing about 150 apartments. I still had the landscape business going. Then I got my building license and built some new homes. But mostly I got into Real Estate because I enjoyed it, it’s not always about the money in life. I enjoy going in and having the renovations done, and I enjoy helping people get their apartments.

How has Marlborough Real Estate changed over the past 30 years?

Are you saying I’m an antique? We started off with the MLS books that they would print weekly, and people would have to come in to see which houses were on the market. It was much more personal. People would come in, and you could offer them coffee, it was more like family. Now with the internet, it’s not as personal. Nowadays people know more than the agents because there’s so much information available.

I’ve had to adapt to this change, and I’ve had a lot of great help. Right now it’s a seller’s market. There are only six single family homes for sale in Marlborough. There is a lot of competition right now, but I’m working hard every day. There’s only one place where luck comes before work, and that’s the dictionary.

Marlborough was a shoe city, one of the biggest in the country. We had all of the shoe factory workers here, and the owners had the big houses. Then the industry changed, and now some of those old factories have been turned into condominiums. We had the Solomon Pond Mall open in the 90s, and now recently the Apex Center was built. The highways came in and provided a more natural way to get to Boston and New York. There’s been tons of new development, and now Marlborough has developed into a big city.

Before starting Houde Real Estate, were you with other Real Estate companies?, and why did you decide to make the change to independent?

I was with Re/Max, then had a Weichert franchise. They’re good companies, but there are many fees involved when working with a corporation. It makes a big difference in the services and benefits we can provide. It allows the flexibility for us to provide video, mega open houses, etc. We enable the agents to have more freedom. We’re one of the only offices around that don’t have desk fees & supply fees, we don’t have that. We even pay for the E & O insurance. It allows the agents to succeed and do better. It also helps the clients too, that’s the important thing. One of the things I learned from a manager when I was a rookie was: Never think about the commission, think about helping people, the money comes later. We teach our agents the same thing, to make sure to take care of the people and find the right home for them.

What ways have you involved yourself in the community?

I enjoy the Labor Day Parade in Marlborough, it was always a big thing growing up, and we started to participate for many years. A couple of years ago we had a Mummers band come up from Philadelphia. We had a clown making balloon animals for the kids. We enjoy having the movie night too. We rent out the West Boylston theatre for Client Appreciation night. Our clients and their families love it. In past Client Appreciation days, we’ve had hot air balloon rides, Elvis Presley impersonators, contests & prizes. We enjoy giving back to the community that we’re part of. And hey, we might do something at the Apex Center in the future.

What Real Estate advice would you give those out there today looking?

To investigate the Real Estate Agent that they’re working with. Interview them, ask them about their experience, ask them how they’re competing in today’s market.

 

Lights, Camera, Action. Finally, after a little over a year watching the Apex Center here in Marlborough come to life, I was looking forward to experiencing what this 43-acre giant had to offer.

Growing up, my mother would take the family to Friendly’s for ice cream.  My favorite ice cream treat from Friendly’s was the ‘Jim Dandy’ sundae. So, it’s without question that I was pretty excited to see Friendly’s opening right down the street from my office. It was one of the first places within the Apex Center that I experienced. The results of that visit (drum roll please) . . . was just like I remembered as a kid, except way busier. It was a Wednesday, early evening, and there was still a wait time of about 30 minutes before being seated. I know, long time to wait, especially at a “Fast” food restaurant like Friendly’s. Once we sat down to enjoy our food, however, I completely forgot all about that long wait time.

The good news is, there are a variety of additional restaurants for you to choose. Fast Food, such as Chick-fil-A, Wendy’s (which preceded the Apex and became adopted into the complex), Qdoba, to a touch of modern American Cuisine at 110 Grill, or a nice Italian restaurant, Evviva Cuccina.

It’s clear that the highlight is the Apex Entertainment Center. It’s 80,000 square feet of pure excitement. There is something to do for everyone. Bumper Cars, Go Karts, 20 feet Rope Course, Arcade, Candlepin and 10 Pin Bowling, Laser Tag, and a very cool state-of-the-art Golf & Sports Simulator.

If that’s not enough for you, there’s the Altitude Trampoline Park, Title Boxing Club, Planet Fitness, which moved from the RK Center across to street, and more.

From being a haven to big employers like Boston Scientific, GE Healthcare Life Sciences, Raytheon, and Quest Diagnostics, to now the home of The Apex Center, it’s without question that our beautiful city of Marlborough has become a well-rounded vibrant city and has earned its stamp on the map.

 

images by cyclone photography

Looking to sell your Marlborough, MA home? Great time to do so.  Looking to buy in Marlborough, MA? Get in line.

Single-family homes and condominiums values are on the rise. The data pulled from the Massachusetts MLS (Multiple Listing Service) validates this. It also validates that inventory is low. Slowly increasing, but still low. There’s just not enough supply to meet the demand of all those hungry buyers out there looking to relocate here to Marlborough.

According to the Massachusetts MLS, in 2017 there were 322 single family homes sold in Marlborough, MA. That’s an 8.4% increase over 2016. There were 151 condominiums sold in 2017 – an increase of 2% in 2017 over 2016.

The slow growth in inventory contributes to the higher home prices in Marlborough. According to the Massachusetts MLS, the median home price recorded for a single-family home in 2017 was $360,000, compared with $335,000 in 2016. Marlborough condominium median price saw an increase from $254,000 to $289,900.

Part of what’s driving the home prices up is the lack of inventory. There were only 9 single-family homes on the market in December 2017. That’s a 40% decrease from December 2016, according to the Massachusetts MLS. On average, single-family homes spent about 52 days on the market.  There were only 4 condominiums on the market in December 2017, down from 10 in December 2016. Condominiums sold on average, within 21 days on the market.

According to the National Association of Realtors and Realtor.com, one contributing factor to this low inventory housing market is the Baby Boomers.  The Baby Boomers are satisfied with their homes and are staying put. As Boomers are deciding to stay put, so are approximately 33 million properties that will not be put on the market.

Last month Gov. Charlie Baker, taking a page right out of the GCP (Green Communities Program), proposed a plan for 135,000 new housing units by 2025 by creating incentives, technical support, and grants to qualifying communities. The governor’s proposed bill would also make it easier for municipalities to change their zoning codes to promote more housing. This bill still needs to pass legislation, and even if it does pass legislation, it will probably take a few years before the construction of the new homes is approved.

I’m sure you’ve already seen quite a few new construction projects of single-family homes and condominiums throughout Marlborough. There are more being built as we speak.

The good news is that with all of the new single-family and condominium construction, there will be more opportunity for home buyers looking to move into our area. The bad news is that this brings more competition for the current home owner, and also could have a big effect, many times negatively, on the value of your home. The better news is that anyone thinking of putting their home on the market this year, would most likely see a very positive return on the sale of their home due to the shortage of homes currently on the market.

Photo Credit: cyclone photography