History of Real Estate Agency

Monday, November 10th, 2014


real estate femal agent

Trudy the real estate matchmaker

Once upon a time, a long long time ago a farmer and his wife were facing hard times as their family grew larger but so busy were they that they had no time to look for a larger farm. All the adjoining land in their valley was already owned and being cultivated by other farmers.  This is the rest of the story on how real estate agency go its start.

The village matchmaker (as in marriages) wasn’t busy at the time and the farmer’s wife (Brunhilda) was chatting with her (Gertrude but they called her Trudy for short), and saying how they needed more land to grow crops for their growing family. Trudy, being an eager and very helpful person, thought carefully and remembered learning about a family from a nearby valley, over the mountain, that was not fully settled, that was hoping to attract another family that might have sons to marry their daughters.

Trudy set out to check this out for herself and in a few days she visited Brunhilda again and told her she’d found some land for her family to move to. Brunhilda, knowing how good a matchmaker Trudy was renowned to be, asked her to make the arrangements with the owner of the land in the nearby valley called Berksvald. Trudy went back and forth between the landowner in Berksvald and Brunhilda and her husband to work out the details. What’s more, Trudy was able to arrange the transfer of Brunhillda and her husband, Thorgood’s small farm to their neighbor Jossman who paid with cattle and sheep that would help the family get started on their new land.

Well, that’s how real estate agency got its start. Trudy prospered as a matchmaker of young persons seeking to marry as well as the same young families needing a place to live. Everyone trusted Trudy to make a good match as she knew not only the families but also the region. They placed their TRUST in her to do RIGHT by them for which she was duly paid.

One interesting side note to this was that Trudy helped everyone, not just one family. She was a matchmaker and for this she was counted on to treat both sides of every match with equal care and consideration. Everyone knew she was fair-minded and they could count on her not to cheat or take advantage of either party.

Flash forward many many hundreds of years and now there is a new breed of agent, we’ll call him Arvo to protect his identity since he’s still around. Arvo believes that his job as an agent is to try to take some sort of advantage, any he can, for his new breed of seller that is now called a client. Arvo’s client, the seller, Sven Sogge isn’t from the town but moved here some 5 years ago. In fact few of the townspeople grew up in the town. So Sven wants Arvo his agent to get a super high price, much higher than Arvo told him the property was probably worth and to help him get this high price Sven is not talking about some of the things he knows are wrong with the house and land and hopes Arvo won’t find out or ask any awkward questions. Arvo is obedient and never asks for information about problems. Sven doesn’t volunteer information and Arvo carefully keeps Sven and the future potential buyers Mr. & Mrs. Brandvold away from Sven Sogge so there’s no chance the Brandvolds would ask Sven any compromising questions. When the Brandvolds ask some questions of Arvo he just answers he doesn’t know and leaves it up to them to try to find out on their own.

There is a new “matchmaker” in town, Trina Bjeland. Her role is to be a transaction broker, also called a facilitator. We’ll call her TB for short. Trina follows The Golden Rule. She believes in her heart that when she puts a match together, she wants both buyers and sellers to know everything she knows or could reasonably know about a property. She also believes that the personal information about both parties should be kept confidential. Trina asks all sorts of questions, she has the sellers fill out a property questionnaire which covers all the important aspects of the property from problems such as dampness to permits and repairs. Trina puts herself in both the buyers’ and the sellers’ shoes as it were, so that both sides can make fully informed decisions. Hiding material information is not Trina’s style.

Unfortunately even though Arvo goes to his house of worship and thinks of himself as a “good person” he isn’t allowed to follow The Golden Rule in business. The law of agency just doesn’t allow that. As an agent, he has to do whatever the seller, Sven Sogge, tells him to do and his duty goes even so far as to try to take any advantage he can of Mr. & Mrs. Brandvold that he legally can including finding out personal motivations that his client Sven could potentially take advantage of. Of course he can’t knowingly break any laws but he knows it’s not his job to be helpful to the buyers. His duty as an agent is to think only about and protect his seller’s interests. In fact he is technically breaking his duty as an agent if he helps the buyers in any way.

While Arvo is doing his best to prevent information getting to the Buyers that might be harmful to his seller’s goal of high price and non-disclosure, Trina is doing her best to see to it that both the buyers and sellers are making their own fully informed decisions by having all the factual information possible.

Trina has been in the business a long time and recognizes the obvious fact that buyers sooner or later become sellers and if those sellers had overpaid as buyers they might have a harder time when it comes time to sell. Or if there was a significant problem they hadn’t known about, they now face having to either spend a lot of money fixing it or taking a loss maybe when they sell. In other words, without proper disclosure, the next time around could become more of a problem but with full disclosure, with both parties being treated equally and fairly as Trina believes should be done, then the future is better for everyone.

Arvo’s approach to the business is that he has been taught and trained that it’s up to the buyers to figure out the problems and value on their own and he rather hopes they won’t find them and will pay top dollar, maybe even more than the property is really worth. Arvo knows that once the buyers have closed on the property, if there are problems that appear afterwards, so long as he didn’t lie about those or intentionally hide them, then it’s the buyers’ problem and he’s on to the next sale.

Arvo, as an agent, follows the rule of “buyer beware”, that it’s up to the buyer to figure out value and find problems. Arvo really hopes the buyers won’t know enough to contact Trina either. He’s much better off if buyers go to him directly and not involve Trina who would be helping her buyers discover all there is to know about the property.

Trina’s approach is that she wants everyone to have the benefit of all the information available. She lives by the Golden Rule, in her life and in her career. Trina, like Trudy, wants everyone to be happy and well served. Trudy the matchmaker was a true facilitator just as Trina is today.

Copyright 2014

Paul Harsch

Berkshires Best Small Town in America Williamstown MA

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

The Best Small Town in America Williamstown MA

williamstown real estate

Best Small Town in America Williamstown MA


The Village Beautiful

Everyone has their own favorite and usually it’s the town they grew up in or live in, or at least I hope many can feel that way about where they live.
For me, Williamstown MA is the best small town in America and I thought I’d write about why that is for me. I can imagine there are quite a few other Williamstown residents who probably share my view, at least on many of the points if not all.
First of all, I like the lack of traffic and Williamstown has none except when there’s something big going on like the Williams alumni parade or fall alumni homecoming. Even on those rare occasions a driver can drive the length of Main St. from the Library in the West to the Williamstown town line in the east is five minutes give or take and pass through just one traffic light which by the way, is more often than not, green as it changes only on demand.
I like the fact you can dine out at any one of about 15 different restaurants and almost never have to wait for a table, how great is that!
Williamstown MA has its own independent movie theater which shows a kaleidoscope of different films most of which never hit the big commercial theaters.
Another reason the town is my number one pick is thanks to Williams College. Awesome! Residents can attend athletic events, theater, use the college’s outstanding facilities like the pool, squash and tennis courts, gym for modest fees or audit courses. This is no ordinary town thanks to the college and Williams as is well known, is no ordinary college. Students are among the top in the nation. We don’t have the wild fraternity scene or crazy behavior that some university towns have to deal with but instead we host smart, hardworking, ambitious and outstanding students who for the most part are focused on their studies.
How about the scenery! Some of the best in the nation I wager. Any time of year it’s just beautiful here. No, we don’t have the Rockies and no we don’t have the Pacific but neither do we have a dense urban environment either. Here we enjoy plentiful natural beauty at our doorsteps while for those needing an urban escape the big cities are only a few hours away.
Our climate is terrific too. Yes we have winter and what a wonderful time of year that is when those who enjoy winter sports are in their glory and we can turn inwards in the winter and get lots of good reading done and enjoy time by the fire.
Spring and fall are spectacular seasons and of course summer, brief as it is, allows us time for gardening, boating, golf, tennis, outdoor cultural events, hiking and basking in the summer sun.

home in Williamstown MA

Calling Williamstown Home

home definition
The town is really clean. I like that. It’s not that there isn’t an occasional bit of litter around but by and large we’re so happy with the way our town looks that people will pick up trash and put it in its proper place. The water is clean, the air mostly clean (we can’t do much about what blows here from other parts of the country), our streets are clean and everyone keeps their properties looking really well kept.
Close to home for me is of course real estate and I can say that in this respect too, Williamstown is the best small town in America because it is “just right”. There is something that fits just about any budget and our values are near the mid-range in the nation. We are neither a rich nor a poor town but we have residents who fit in just about every point of the spectrum from quite wealthy to those who need and receive our support and help. Affordability has actually improved since the recession so housing here is again much more affordable. The town has committed to building more affordable housing because we try to make it possible for as many who would like to live here to be able to do so.
Call me unusual if you like but living where I do in this gorgeous valley and wonderful small town I don’t feel the urge or necessity of going away on vacation. There were years past when we did but more to take the children to see their grandparents. I traveled quite a bit as a younger person and have seen some wonderful places but I never found one I could say today that I’d rather live there. Having done my traveling I find I am blessed and quite content to enjoy the Berkshires in every season.
One more reason to consider Williamstown as the best town in America is the people. What a great bunch. Relatively open minded, committed to learning, committed to the quality of life here, interested in the arts, living a healthy life-style, showing consideration for others. We are not a fanatical bunch and we have a wide variety of interests and talents. Unlike a ski town for example where everyone is engaged in one way or another in that activity or a yachting community, Williamstown is home to a spectrum of different interests although I will acknowledge that education and learning are a prominent focus.
So there you have it, my short list of reasons why Williamstown is number one in my book (I hope everyone not fortunate enough to live here will write their own list about how they like their own town best) and while we don’t ever want to see it become over crowded we would welcome anyone else who cares to join us. It’s simply a great place to live!

williamstown autumn colors

Welcome to our town.
Williamstown MA

Paul Harsch
Copyright 2014

Berkshires The Clark Art Institute Williamstown MA

Thursday, May 29th, 2014


Williamstown MA near The Clark

YouTube video of The Clark Art Tadao Ando Visitors Center. Click Here.

Clark Art Institute Williamstown MA will host a grand opening July 4, 2014. Thousands are expected in Williamstown to view this architectural delight and the collections.   The information that follows courtesy of The Clark Art Institute Web Page gives up a preview.

williamstown ma real estate near the clark art

Williamstown MA is home to one of the finest art collections in the country.

Join us this summer as the Clark opens its new Visitor Center, renovated galleries, and expanded campus.

Opening Day: July 4, 2014

Don’t miss a thing—keep informed by signing up for our e-newsletter or becoming a member

Here’s a sneak peek of what to expect:

Visitor Center
– New building designed by Tadao Ando
– Spacious special exhibition galleries
– Unique dining and shopping opportunities
– Beautiful views of Stone Hill and the Clark’s campus

Museum Building
– Elegant renovated galleries
– Reinstallation of the permanent collection, including the return of the French paintings collection after a three-year international tour
– A fifteen percent increase in gallery space, including a new gallery for American art
– New public areas

Manton Research Center
– Increased access to the Clark’s diverse collection of prints, drawings, and photographs in the new Manton Study Center for Works on Paper
– A spacious public reading room,
– Bookstore and coffee bar with free wifi

– A three-tiered reflecting pool framing views of Stone Hill
– Outdoor terraces
– New and expanded walking trails

real estate agency in Williamstown MA

A designer view of the Tadao Ando center at night.

Williamstown MA real estate

Photos from designboom.com show us a preview of the center.

Berkshires Williamstown MA home for sale near Williams College

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014
The Clark Art near to home for sale

Williamstown MA home for sale near to Williams College and all the Berkshire Events.

This spotlessly fresh Williamstown MA home for sale is a 4 bedroom garrison colonial home with a 1 car attached garage has a most beautiful elevated setting amid a very attractively landscaped yard surrounded by mature trees. Views can be enjoyed of horses in a nearby field, mountains and Bridges Pond. Gleaming hardwood floors will delight, formal living and dining rooms will invite and the generous well equipped kitchen will excite (the taste buds that is).

Much care has been given this well-loved Williamstown home with significant updating in new heating system, new replacement windows throughout (increasing the energy efficiency)  and  a separate area for a home office or guest visits with a 3/4 bath and private entry.  The light and clean lower level is complete with multiple storage cabinetry, carpeted family room area, laundry and storage/workshop room.     The back yard has a new storage shed for your garden equipment and a wonderful possibility for a deck or patio in this private space. The location is a fifteen minute walk to Main St., Williams College, the Williamstown Summer Theater Festival  and all Williamstown has to offer.

First Floor

Kitchen: 11’6” x 14’, vinyl flooring, good –sized pantry

property for sale Williamstown

Walk to Williams College in 15 minutes from the home for sale in Williamstown MA

Living Room:   12’ x 22’, hard wood floors

Dining Room: 10’6” x 11’9”, hardwood floors

Half Bath: 4’9” x’ 6’8”, vinyl flooring, granite-surfaced vanity

Office/ Guest space: 11’ x 24’, carpeted with 3/4 bath and plenty of dry upstairs storage; separate entrance.


Second Floor:

Master Bedroom: 11’5” x 16’, hard wood floor; double closet

2nd Bedroom: 11’2” x 11’10”, hardwood floor, double closet

3rd Bedroom: 8’7” x 11’4”, hardwood floor, double closet

4th Bedroom: 11’5” x 14’3”, hardwood floor, double closet

Full Bath: 6’8” x 7’10”, vanity with granite surface, ceramic tiled walls and surround


Lower Level/Basement:

Family Room: Carpeted with multiple cabinetry for storage

Laundry area: laminate floor; washer/dryer and vanity with sink

Utility/workshop area: completely updated boiler




Foundation: Poured Concrete YearBuilt:1968 TotalSq.Ft: 1856 plus finished lower level.
Floors:  hardwood, carpet, vinyl Siding: wood Driveway: Paved
Roof:  Asphalt/Fiberglass Windows: new double pane throughout w/argon gas
Water: City Sewer: City Heat: Baseboard HW; office/guest space-electric Hot water:  Oil, on demand
Zoning: Residential  Parcel Size: .52 Possession: At Closing
Assessment: $286,500. TaxYear: 2014 Taxes: $4117.
Insulation: R 50 insulation value in attic
Book: 1382 Page:482 Map: 117 Lot: 10
LeadPaint:  unk Smoke/CODetectors: Yes ExteriorLighting: Yes CableTV: Yes





Berkshire Home Value- Guarding it

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

berksghire home valueThe value of your Berkshire home is precious to you.  We searched the web for you to find ways to enhance that value and protect it.  When you are ready to buy a Berkshire home or sell your Berkshire property we are here for YOU.

Find out online the most popular features that Berkshire home buyers are seeking today with this link.  The cost of these features may be less than you think.

Is having a guard dog a good thing?  Find out from Cesar Milan with this  link.  When choosing a guard dog you need to consider insurance costs that may rise on certain breeds.

Do you have good Berkshire home insurance coverage?  Check out this link to find out.

How can you protect your Berkshire home basement from the spring melt waters?  Check out this link to begin.

Spring cleaning your Berkshire home to ready for the summer?  Quick tips are here at this link.

Ever considered what home inspectors do?  Now you know with this link.

These are few starters that will increase your home’s value.  To obtain a Berkshire Real Estate Market Value report on follow this link.






Berkshire Real Estate Agent -How much to real estate agents make?

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Berkshire Real Estate Agent Salaries

How much gross income does a Berkshire Real Estate agent make.  It varies everywhere.   However Point2 which provides internet marketing to Berkshire Real Estate Agents has done the math for us using the median salary found on Salary.com.   A Berkshire real estate agent would need to sell 8.45 homes at a price of $300,000 per home each year to make a $38,067 salary.  That amount is not full profit.  As can be seen from the illustration below the real estate agent and broker will have expenses that must be paid from the gross salary.  Considering a career in real estate?  Talk to Harsch Associates.  We can offer you advantages and help your reach your career goal such as state of the art internet advertising of your properties, support staff to assist you in meeting your goals, office space and much more.  Call your Berkshire Real Estate Agency Harsch Associates today.


How Much Do Agents Make How Much Do Real Estate Agents Make?


Berkshire County Spring equals adventures New England Style

Monday, March 24th, 2014
berkshire county property for sale

Berkshire County New England living.

Spring in the Berkshires!   Take a moment to experience Berkshire County living through these articles and photos from Western Massachusetts.  We invite inquiries about Berkshire County and the properties for sale in the Berkshires.  We are a locally owned real estate agency in business for more than 40 years.  Our agents offer excellent service with attention to your needs.  Call us today if you are considering moving to the Berkshires.

Berkshire County Spring is in the air and the living is good!

New York Times article about filming “The Judge” in Berkshire County, Western MA.


Mystery New England Village


Bridge of Flowers


The Clark Art Museum where Monet lives.


Broadway Berkshire Style.


Earth Day in the Berkshires- Celebrate all of April 2014







Berkshire Home. To list or SELL. That is the question.

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

A “for sale” sign on a Berkshire property does not always mean the owner wants to SELL the home.  Owner motivation has everything to do with whether or not a property is positioned in the market to sell actually SELL. The owner may want to receive a price for the home unrelated to the actual market value of the home.

Williamstown real estate

To list or SELL, that is the question.

Berkshire home sellers come to the market with a host of different expectations and conditions.  It may come as a surprise to readers that real estate licensees are no different.   A sign on the lawn, a real estate agent and a listing in the local multiple listing service does not guarantee a sale.  Many variables will affect the motivation of the Berkshire home seller and real estate agent.   As in all markets the value of the item being sold is only what a willing buyer can and will pay for it.  Fair market value to a buyer can be much different than what a seller has in  mind.

For example, if you own 100 shares of Apple stock that is selling for $500 per share you have a portfolio valued at $50,000.  You decide you must  liquidate your shares because of an urgent family need.   You need $60,000.  You ask your broker to sell the shares at $600 per share and you place a limit of $600 per share on the sale.  The stock is trading at $500 per share.  You must have a price of  $100 more than the market is willing to pay.  You must either lower your sell price to market value or hold the stock until it rises to $600 (if the stock ever rises to that value).    You may still have the urgent need for $60,000 but the stock is still worth only $50,000 in the market at this time.



The same example applies to your Berkshire home.  Buyers, appraisers and banks may disagree with you about the worth of your home although you may need to receive a set amount for the sale of your home.  The home can be placed on the market at what is called a “holding price” because at an unrealistic price you will end up holding the property.  You can place a for sale sign in the yard, place ads in the newspaper and online, and even buy a bill board to advertise your home for sale, however none of these things will overcome a over priced listing amount in the market.

If you want to SELL your property and not “hold it”, the key is learning what the real market value is at this point in time.  As in the Apple stock example above you cannot force the market up to the dollar amount you want and believe your home is worth.  You can either hold the stock (home) and wait to see if the market recovers to the level where your SELL price is reached or you can price your stock (home) at the market value and expect a buyer to make a bid.

Berkshire Home-Inspect to Protect

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Inspect to Protect

In Berkshire County Real Estate it is routine to have various inspections performed when purchasing a home. In Massachusetts one inspection is mandatory and that is the Title Five Septic Inspection.   For buyers seeking a bank mortgage other inspections may be required. The types of  Berkshire real estate inspections vary with the type of real estate such as land, home, commercial property.

In this blog we are going to focus primarily on the inspections for a Berkshire single family residential transaction and just touch on a few other types of home inspections.  Your Harsch Real Estate Agent will help you locate inspectors that meet your needs.

1)      Berkshire home structural or whole house inspection– these are performed by a state licensed home inspector who will check all visible aspects of the structure, the systems (electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation), both inside and outside, the foundation, drainage, insulation, in short, everything to do with the house other than cosmetic. Some inspectors will also inspect the appliances, water softeners, filters, AC and other components.

2)      Berkshire home water inspection – if the Berkshire property is served by a private source such as a well then it is advised a water test be taken to check for bacteria, contaminants and even the pH of the water.

3)      Berkshire Home radon – this is available by the home inspector or by purchasing a simple kit to do it yourself for air testing however testing for radon in the water is also available if on a well.

4)      Berkshire home  Septic System – in Berkshire County Massachusetts this is referred to as a Title V ( Title Five) inspection and must be conducted by a person with the approved state licensing credentials. This particular inspection and certification is required under MA law whereas the above three areas of testing are not mandatory though highly recommended.

5)      Berkshire land Percolation Testing – this testing is done when purchasing vacant land to determine the suitability of the site for a septic system. All states in our region require this to be performed in order to obtain a building permit.

6)      Berkshire land Soil testing – in any case where contamination from a hazardous spill or leak is suspected then soil evaluations are done to determine the level of contamination, the type of contaminants and the necessary remediation procedure. It is routine to perform initial site history review on any commercial real estate but buyers should be cautious to consider the fuel type history of other properties such as agricultural or even homes to determine if there may have been spills or buried fuel tanks.

7)      Berkshire home Asbestos – asbestos may be present in a variety of building materials and as such if demolition or remodeling is under consideration testing should be conducted to determine if there is asbestos containing material present from shingles, to flooring to popcorn type paints and insulation and the process of removal.

8)      Berkshire home Lead Paint – this is of particular concern in residential dwellings and it is illegal to have children under the age of six occupying full time a dwelling where this is known to be present. A licensed lead inspector is required to perform lead tests although there are very inexpensive self-test kits available at hardware stores. Keep in mind that even if you do the self-testing, if lead paint is discovered under the law de-leading would be mandatory if young children occupy the house or apartment, owned or rented.

9)     Berkshire home  UFFI – ureaformaldehyde foam was a very popular form of insulation in the 70’s and very effective as an insulator but often the installations gave off excessive formaldehyde fumes which were a troublesome health hazard and thus the foam was banned. There are new foams on the market today that are highly effective insulation materials and non-hazardous.

Berkshires property agency Harsch Real Estate can help you in finding professional home inspectors.  Call one of our agents today to begin your Berkshire home search.

Happy House Hunting,

Paul Harsch

Berkshires Williamstown Holiday Walk 2013 Reindog Parade and Holiday Trees

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

rafa makes front page  Williamstown Holiday Walk 2013 was smashing.  Williamstown MA celebrated the 30th annual Reindog Parade as hundreds lined Spring Street by Williams College to watch as the dogs walked their owners.  The costumes were in good taste and the finale included a fire truck bearing Santa to town.

We are so proud of our little office dog Rafa who made the front page of the North Adams Transcript on Monday of this week.  Rafa was wearing his frog dog costume, however it appears the he strongly resembled The Grinch as the paper described him.  His owner Nurit Berman was prouder than we were.

Enjoy our “How to arrange a Reindog Parade by THE DOG”  video and then relax with a tour through all the decorated Habitat for Humanity Auction Trees at the First Congregational Church on Main Street in Williamstown.  It was a fine way to kick off this 2013 Holiday Season in the Berkshires.  Harsch Associates wishes everyone everywhere Happy Holidays!

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