Choosing which neighborhood to live in has to be one of the most important decisions for a new home buyer. It’s the one item on your list that can’t be changed after you sign on the dotted line. There is more to a neighborhood than living on a cul-de-sac or having beautiful city or water views. Agents highly recommend that buyer’s drive through the potential area multiple times during the day and evening, as well as weekends. Evening traffic may come to a standstill in front of your home or the local fire department may travel down your street multiple times during the day. If it’s not something that you’re comfortable with then you may need to continue with the home search.
There are other external factors that could affect your property value either positively or negatively. However, these may not take place in the foreseeable future.
Foreclosures in the neighborhood will definitely drive down the average price of the property value by as much as 1% according to studies. So if you are within 250 feet of a foreclosed property and you decide to sell shortly after a foreclosure your selling price may be affected.
Public transportation expansion may occur. Public transit is a must have for some home owners. Being within walking distance to public transportation is a necessity for them to get to work. According to the American Public Transportation Association “residential property values for areas near public transit facilities are higher than for residential areas far away from such facilities.”
Future developments such as commercial and governmental developments are additional factors that can change your property value for better or worse. Government plans for hospitals, schools, and traffic patterns will have as much influence on land values as commercial amenities such as cell phone towers. Additional commercial amenities such as coffee shops, restaurants, movie theaters and grocery stores such as Whole Foods could increase property values on average up to 20% according to studies.
So drive through your neighborhood, check in with the town hall and Google to research the area you want to live in. Knowledge is power.
Jenn Scali is an agent with RE/MAX Legacy and she works closely with buyers to make sure they get their homework done. You can reach her at (617) 905-7211 or on her website at www.jennscali.com
May is a good month to finish your Spring To Do List, and start thinking about tackling your Summer To Do List.
- Turn on your outdoor spigots and check your garden hoses for leaks.
- Take a look at your deck or patio. Does your deck need to be repainted or refinished? Does your patio need new bricks or stones?
- Wash and set out your outdoor furniture.
- Inspect your pool after the long winter. Start getting it ready for the upcoming summer months.
- We use our outdoor grill year round, but it’s a good idea in the spring to clean it and make sure you have enough propane or charcoal.
- Mulch your shrubbery bed, and till and prepare your vegetable garden.
- Memorial Day Weekend is a popular time in New England to buy your tomato plants for your home garden.
- Take the cover off your outdoor air conditioning unit and open up your vents in your house. Test the central air conditioning system well before the first hot day of summer, or you may be surprised! Start thinking about putting your window air conditioners back in the windows.
- Wash your windows, inside and out.
- Buy sunscreen products and bug spray so you are ready for the summer months.
- Go through your winter wool clothes and decide what is headed for the dry cleaners and what is headed to Goodwill.
- In New England, May is a great month to start up your walking regimen.
About the Author – When Gale is not working at home on her “To Do List”, she enjoys working with both Sellers and Buyers. Gale Spadafora is one of the Broker Owners at RE/MAX Legacy and can be contacted through her website at www.galespadafora.com.
Today people can’t get enough of HGTV’s hottest shows like Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, Fixer Upper or Love it or List it just to name a few. So what is keeping people glued to their TV for hours on end binge watching their favorite HGTV show? I have a couple of reasons why it’s ranked #8 on the list of top 10 cable networks according to The Futon Critic with 2015 finishing with its highest ratings ever.
Let’s start with the formula of HGTV’s programming. It’s a procedural show which is a genre of programming in which a problem is introduced, investigated and solved all within the same episode. It makes it easier for viewers to tune in for one episode without feeling lost. We get to see the home improvement shows make things better. We watch on the edge of our seat the tough issues of unexpected water damage that leads the contractor to go over budget or the worry of not meeting the scheduled deadline. Miraculously, at the end of the each episode it’s wrapped up with a nice bow on top. That’s what viewers want and need to see happen.
Another key factor is the host’s personalities drive the show. We get to see Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper come out looking like heroes at the same time we get a peek into their family life too. Joanna has clients meet her at home to discuss the new floor plan she’s implementing for their fixer upper. Toward the end of the show Chip pops by with their four children to bring Momma some cupcakes to get her though endless hours of staging. The same thing happens with Property Brothers. We see both brothers struggling to get their jobs done all the while their larger than life personas entertain us. As they say “we take our jobs seriously, but not ourselves.”
Lastly, have you actually thought about why people want the open concept living spaces, master “suite”, high end cabinetry, granite counter tops, hardwood floors and stainless steel appliances? Besides the fact that it looks gorgeous it also offers us a different lifestyle. Open concept means more room to socialize and host parties. The high end finishings represent luxury and comfort. The master suite is where you can hide from your children to get your sanity back and relax in your soaker tub. I think most of us would love to live this lifestyle even if it’s for a 30 minute block at a time.
Jenn Scali is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy who would love to help you find your “new lifestyle.” You can reach her at (617) 905-7211 or on her website at www.jennscali.com
We have a second home in Killington VT. Our home in Woburn has city water and sewer lines. Last December, we were in Killington and I had to use the bathroom. I attempted to flush the toilet and nothing; it didn’t work. We had no water. I yelled, “Ann the toilet is not working”. She said “great, this is what happens when you don’t have city water and sewer lines.” We went to the basement to check the utility room and discovered that there was no water pressure in the pump tank. We told everyone who was in the house not to use the bathrooms and we all went skiing. We thought that in about 5 hours the water would regain pressure and we would be fine.
At about 1:00pm that afternoon, my friend Jeff (who is an electrician) came over to make sure there were not any electrical issues. What we found was that the pump in the system was working fine and we could hear the pump spinning, but no water was coming up the well. Jeff suggested getting our hose and tapping into the neighbor’s outside faucet to fill the well with water to see how long it would last.. We filled the well for 4 hours and it worked fine.
The next day we spoke to the plumber that put in the well and he came by and tested it. The pipe had 50 feet of water in it, so we were ok. But we still did not know why we had this issue. Days went by, no problems, the water worked fine. Then the same week we were in the basement (there is a bathroom down there) and heard the toilet running. Finally we figured out what happened. The basement toilet was running all week when we were not at the house and the system could not recover, causing no water to be in the well. I changed all the stoppers in each toilet in the bathrooms and so far so good 2 months and no well issues.
About the author : Fred DaMore is a Mortgage Specialist at Ross Mortgage, homeowner and self-acclaimed do it yourselfer. Feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Real Estate Value Trends North of Boston 128/93 Area
2015 was another great year! A year ago, we were talking about the strong year we had in 2014 and here we are a year later and the experience has been pretty much the same. We continue to show higher than historical volume, and values have increased as well. Now, as we proceed along into 2016, I wanted to look at how much the market has changed in the past year as well as how we compare to the values of 2005 at the previous market high.
In Woburn, the single family market average sales price finished higher than the previous year. Sales volume was higher too. The higher volume occurred in spite of the low inventory levels throughout the year. On a relative basis, Woburn is more affordable than the other local towns, but maintains a similar growth in home value. Interest rates remained low and this contributed to first time buyers being able to afford homes even as prices increased. Interest rates in 2016 are expected to rise slightly.
Looking back over 2015, in the north of Boston area, we saw market time decrease, bidding wars with multiple offers, fewer distressed homes, and continued overall positive feeling about the market.
Statistics and trends are a favorite tool for me. I can get a sense of where the market is going by looking at the indicators. Although I have created charts for many individual towns, my favorite chart, which is included with this blog, is of the local 128/93 towns compared to each other. These include Reading, Burlington, Melrose, Stoneham, Wakefield, Wilmington and Woburn.
Here is a table for these local towns that captures the trend data:
|Town||Average Sale Price
2014 to 2015
from 2005 High
Interestingly, all of the local towns have shown strong gains over the previous year. A year ago, not all of the towns had exceeded the highs of 2005, but at the end of 2015, all have surpassed the highs of 2005. Looking ahead, let’s hope for continued growth in local real estate values, and a continued strong real estate market.
About the Author: Roland Spadafora is one of the broker owners of RE/MAX Legacy and is known around the office as the expert in market trends and stats. You can learn more about him on his website www.spadaforateam.com
As a taxpayer, I am always looking for tax deductions or credits to help me pay less taxes. Did you know that as a home owner you could get a tax credit of up to $500 for making energy saving improvements to your home?! Some of these improvements include energy efficient windows, insulation, central air conditioning, roofing furnaces and so much more. To learn who and what qualifies go to irs.gov and search for form 5695
About the author: Anthony Giglio is one of the broker/owner’s of RE/MAX Legacy and is an passionate about getting all the tax deductions and credits he can. You can learn more about him and contact him directly by visiting his website www.myhomeMA.com
It’s what you don’t see that makes the Sign of a RE/MAX agent. Every day, we do more to help buyers and sellers realize their dreams. Nobody sells more real estate than RE/MAX.
I am an Addict. There I have said it! I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol or cigarettes. I am addicted to online games! Always have been, always will be. It started way back with Tetris, Bejeweled and Mario Brothers. Then I participated in the Farmville and Candy Crush craze. Now I play a combination of games that keep my brain thinking or my mind stress free. My current favorites are Words with Friends, 7 Little Words, Trivia Crack, Lumosity and Monkey Wrench, which I try to play on a daily basis. Most of these give me more than a couple of days to play their daily puzzle, so I often catch up on the weekend. I also play Red Herring, get bored with it, then go back to it. And when I have a little extra time and need to not use my brain, my go to games are SongPop 2 and Match the Dots.
Also note that I do not pay for any games. I play the daily puzzles which are free and I put up with the ads.
Words with Friends – Zynga – The game is just like its name! You challenge a friend (or an unknown person) to a game that is similar to the classic board game Scrabble. There is lots of strategy as you try to get the most points each turn with your 7 letters, BUT try to make sure you don’t set your challenger up for a good score. You have up to 11 days for your turn so there is not a lot of pressure. I play with 4 friends right now; two I play with every day or two, and the other two is sporadic.
7 Little Words – Blue Ox Technologies – This game is a daily game and each puzzle is available for 3 days. You have to unscramble tiles that have 2, 3 or 4 letters on them and make 7 words. There are clues for each word and it gets easier as you get each word, as there are less tiles to work with. I find that I can usually get at least 4 words at the first seating, then I play again later and find that some of the other words just pop out at me. Somedays I never finish. Mondays are the easiest puzzles and they get harder through the week. My favorite day is Sunday when they have “themed” puzzles. Like other games I played this for a long time, got tired of it, stopped, and started up again when I taught my sister how to play.
Trivia Crack – Etermax – This is one of my newer games and I play individual games against my two sisters and an Alabama “online friend” I found through SongPop. It is very straight forward and easy to learn. There are 6 categories: Geography, Sports, History, Art, Science and Entertainment. You spin the dial and get a category and a question with 4 answers. You answer it right and you get another spin. You answer it wrong and it is your opponent’s turn. You get 3 answers right in a row and you have the opportunity to get a Crown. To win the game you must have 6 Crowns, a Crown from each category. And therein lies the problem…..I am good at Sports and Geography, but awful at Entertainment! Another facet of the game is that you can see your overall percentages of correct answers per category.
Lumosity – Lumosity falls in the category of brain games. If you play the free Lumosity you will get 3 puzzles a day, and you can play them once, or have access to them all day long. Then the next day you will get 3 entirely different puzzles. You have no control over what puzzles show up each day. I think I have access to about 20 puzzles. Some I absolutely love, and others are not as interesting, but overall I think it is a good workout. The puzzles are in the following categories: speed, memory, attention, flexibility and problem solving. My favorite is “Trouble Brewing” where you quickly take multiple coffee orders, pour the coffee, AND make sure that the coffee doesn’t spill before you get back to that cup again. Another fun puzzle is “Train of Thought”. There are colored trains and colored stations and you have to get the same colored train into the same colored station. Sound easy? Not really when there are 10 different colored trains coming out of the tunnel and you have to constantly change the tracks to get the train to the correct station. And oh by the way the trains keep coming and never stop! The puzzles start out easy and over the weeks as you progress through many levels the tasks become harder. (for example I think the train puzzle might start with 4 trains, you master that, then you get 5 trains, etc) I have not tried it but I have heard good reviews of the brain game called Elevate.
Monkey Wrench – Blue Ox Technologies – Okay Okay I know what you are thinking…….what kind of name is this? Well the monkey icon showed up on the bottom of my 7 Little Words game every day for ages, taunting me…..saying Gale Gale please play me. I finally caved to the monkey and tried it. And guess what? It’s mildly interesting. It’s a word search puzzle (hard to explain in this limited space), you play by yourself, you have one puzzle a day and three days to play. Fun to play when you have 5 minutes until dinner is ready.
SongPop 2 – Fresh Planet – This is a fun, nostalgic, stress releasing, relaxing, music trivia game. I mostly play with people I don’t know as they try to match your common music interests. The playlists are from dozens of genres and lots of decades. I seem to do best in the 60’s and 70’s, Pop and Rock (those were my teenage years and my twenties). The modern songs I am pretty good at are the Country songs. Obviously my music tastes have changed over the years. To play the game you hear a song and then you have 4 answers to choose from, either 4 singer names, or 4 titles of the song. You hear 5 songs a round and you have to answer faster and get more correct than your opponent. I usually just play on the weekends, as the games never expire. There are two women that I was matched up to about 2 or 3 years ago who I still play with. SongPop used to assign you geographically and I was in Florida at the time. One woman is from Alabama and I am now on Facebook with her, and follow the pictures of her grandchildren. The other woman winters in Florida and lives in Ohio the rest of the year. We got chatting (on line) and it turns out she lives near Mansfield, Ohio where my sister lives, and her husband knows my brother-in-law. What a small world!
Match the Dots – IceMochi – Totally mindless. You can play a quick game in a minute. Connect the same colored dots. There are timed games where speed is important, and other games where you are given so many moves to get a task done. Depending on how fast, or how few moves you take you get 1, 2 or 3 stars. Often if I only get 1 star I play that particular game again and again to improve to 2 or 3 stars.
Red Herring – Blue Ox Technologies – This game exasperates me! That’s why I can’t play it all the time. I’ll play a few games, then not play for weeks, then go back to it. It is challenging and interesting, sometimes easy, but most of the time difficult. The goal of the game is to group 4 words into 3 categories, but you don’t know the names of the categories. You have a total of 16 words, so 4 words are not used. Watch out for them as they are the Red Herrings that are there to mislead you. Start with the hardest level first, then drop to normal and easy as necessary. As with the other Blue Ox games there is a new game every day and they last for three days.
So these are my favorites right now. If I was to rewrite this blog next January, some of these games will be a memory, and there will be a few new ones to add to the list. What are your favorite games? You know I am always looking for good reviews and new games to try.
About the Author – Gale enjoys her “down time” with online games. But she is most interested in working with both Sellers and Buyers and helping them reach their goals. Gale Spadafora is one of the Broker Owners at RE/MAX Legacy and can be contacted through her website at www.galespadafora.com.
Twas the night before Christmas,
and all through the house
Not a Realtor was working,
Not even their spouse.
The closings were done the week before last,
And the commission checks were deposited hard and fast.
The “For Sale” signs were nestled in the back of the shed,
While visions of spa visits danced through my head.
When all of a sudden I received a text,
A local Realtor’s name appeared, I was perplexed!
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a full price cash offer now that’s what I like to hear!
More rapid then eagles, thoughts raced through my mind,
This amazing offer was one of a kind.
NO home inspector, NO mortgage broker, and NO appraiser!
Mr. and Mrs. Buyer just did me a favor!
Before I knew it, my doorbell rang,
I sprung from the couch and my heart sang!
As I opened my door, he turned around,
I couldn’t believe what I had found.
His clothes were disheveled; he was a complete mess,
There was no doubt he needed to rest.
He spoke not a word but went straight to his work,
gave me the paperwork and turned with a jerk.
And laying a finger aside of his nose,
He shouts…remember we want a quick close!
He sprung in his Volvo and sped down the street,
This top notch Realtor doesn’t miss a beat.
As I headed inside and closed the door,
I thought there’s nothing I love more,
Than to be helping people with their dream,
And seeing a homeowner’s face beam!
Wishing you every happiness this Holiday Season
and throughout the coming year.
~ Jenn Scali
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – Jenn has found a new talent – writing Holiday Poetry! But when she’s not writing you can find her working with Buyers and Sellers. Jenn Scali is a Realtor at RE/MAX Legacy and you can reach her at (617) 905-7211 or on her website at www.jennscali.com
It seems like a simple enough question, but its answer can get complicated. Do you want artificial? Should I cut down my own? Should I support a local tree stand or garden center or go to a bigger store like Home Depot?
Let’s start with artificial. Back in the fifties, my family traditionally got a real tree and usually a very big one. Sometimes the top had to have so much cut off, we almost had a 2nd tree as a result. And then one year my parents went to Gilchrist at Redstone Shopping Center and bought an artificial tree. It was never explained to me why they did this, but I do remember the tree…in all of its silver glory. Why silver? Trees are green…aren’t they? Well today, the artificial trees look almost real and if you have the room to store it and the patience to reassemble it year after year, then artificial isn’t a bad way to go.
If you want a real tree, it’s a simple task. Go to your favorite local tree stand and find the one that catches your eye that will go perfectly in the designated spot in your living room or family room. Check the branches to be certain they are firm (not wimpy) so the ornaments will not droop. Most likely the prices will vary based on height of the tree and the quality. Do you know if the needles will drop off the one you choose? Well the main way to make certain the tree won’t lose needles rapidly is to check it for freshness (not dry) and make sure you keep it watered once it’s in your home. It is important to cut a half inch or so off the bottom before setting the tree in the stand. This will help allow the tree to take up water so as to keep it fresh as long as possible.
One thing we know when we go to a local tree stand is that these trees weren’t cut down yesterday and most likely are already a month or so old. So if you really want a fresh tree, perhaps a trip to a local tree farm is the answer. If you’re fortunate enough to have a tree farm within driving distance of where you live, you can go there and cut down your own. Although prices may vary, many have a simple approach. All trees, regardless of size are the same price. So you grab one of the saws they provide, walk through rows and rows of trees, and all different varieties and sizes until that perfect (or almost perfect) tree for your home is standing in front of you. Interestingly this tree, once it’s at home in your tree stand, is not going to take up as much water right away as the pre-cut tree from your local tree stand. That’s because it is already quite moist (fresh) and it needs to dry out a bit before it will need more water intake.
So whatever your choice, it’s what works best for you and your family and there is no right or wrong. Mainly it’s about having a holiday spirit and your tree can help make that happen.
About the author: Roland cuts down a tree every year with his step-daughter for her home, but continues to buy his own at the local tree stand. He will tell you traditions are important to maintain. Roland is a broker owner at RE/MAX Legacy.