Tag Archives: roland spadafora

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

2015

% Change

2014 to 2015

% Change

from 2005 High

Reading $553,508 +6.47% +15.19%
Burlington $547,275 +6.82% +24.01%
Melrose $528,488 +6.50% +16.56%
Stoneham $494,653 +7.16% +9.19%
Wakefield $492,971 +4.90% +9.50%
Wilmington $461,574 +9.08% +1.71%
Woburn $438,681 +8.47% +8.47%

 

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.

Mulittown

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)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

 


roland treeIt’s once again the holiday season and a question that many people have to answer is:  What kind of Christmas tree am I going to get?

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.

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)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.


Category: Holidays, Seasonal

Roland Melted SidingA few times in recent years, I have come across homes with distorted, melted vinyl siding.  The first thought is to ask “how could this have happened?”  The answer is very simple – the neighbors did it!  Well actually the neighbors didn’t do it, at least not intentionally, but when they installed their new low – e windows, the process began (unbeknownst to all parties).

Here’s what’s really happening.  The neighbor installs low emissivity windows because they provide great benefit to him.  The low emissivity windows have a thin layer on the inside of the outer piece of glass of a double paned insulated window.  This keeps out the heat from the infrared rays of the sun while allowing natural daylight to pass through. In the winter time, it also reflects the heat within the room back into the room.  That all sounds great for the homeowner with the energy efficient low – e windows.

But what happens to the heat that is reflected away on the outside?  The window acts like a magnifying glass that directs a “laser beam” of energy towards the next door neighbor.  The position of the sun in the sky can affect the intensity and the worst conditions are winter time when the sun is lower which results in a greater impact.   Traditional siding like cedar shingles or clapboards is not affected.  But vinyl siding is affected and the siding melts and distorts.

If you have a cooperative neighbor, you can ask that he install screens on the outside of his windows that will disperse the energy without affecting the effectiveness of the windows.  This should take care of the problem.

Another option, although more costly, is to install HardiePlank siding on your home.  This is a fiber-cement product, but the cost is 3 times that of regular vinyl siding.

It sounds like the best fix is for the neighbor to invest in a few hundred dollars to purchase screens and hope it does the trick.  Replacing the defective vinyl siding without resolving the cause will only result in it happening again.

For more information about low – e windows to understand the benefit and potential problems, a quick Google search will provide all the information you need to know.

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author: Roland Spadafora is one of the broker owners of RE/MAX Legacy. You can learn more about him on his website www.spadaforateam.com

 


brain1In the past I have written about right brain and left brain thinking, which is one of my favorite subjects.  But no matter how we see ourselves, whether strong left or strong right or somewhere in between, we all have the ability to call on our right side to come up with creative solutions to our everyday problems.  The secret to accomplishing this is to participate in an activity that draws on the right side of the brain.

For instance, I’ve solved some major problems while walking.  The mind wanders, and the next thing you’re realizing is you have a solution to something that’s has been hanging over you for a while.  My best example of this occurred back in my days at Polaroid.  My two problems “du jour” were a) a quality issue with the product I was responsible for and b) what to get my brother and his bride as a wedding gift.   While at work, several times within a day, I would need to walk between buildings to attend meetings or the like.  On this particular day, I left my building and began walking to my destination, 10 minutes away.  As I walked out of my parking lot, about to descend down the road to the other building, I solved one of my problems.  It just came to me.  I knew what to do to correct the quality issue with my product.  And as it turned out, I was correct.  On the way back to my building, at the same spot approaching my building, I solved problem #2…I had an idea for a gift for my brother and his wife.  They had gotten engaged while staying at my cottage in New Hampshire, and I found an artist local to the area in New Hampshire who had painted a water color of the island across from my beach where he had proposed.  It was the perfect gift!

Now there are other good times to solve problems when your right brain is active.  During the morning shower is a wonderful time to solve problems or generate creative ideas.  Driving down the highway, we get to our destination and can’t remember the trip along the way.  We were probably in right brain cruise control, hopefully solving problems as we went.  Flying a kite is a good right brain activity.   So when someone says “Go fly a kite!” take them up on it.  You never know what problem you’ll solve!

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author: Roland Spadafora is one of the broker owners of RE/MAX Legacy and prides himself on being a problem solver.  Sometimes one must think “outside the box” to arrive at a solution.  Throughout his professional career, it is the way Roland has approached problems. You can learn more about him on his website www.spadaforateam.com


Category: Community Info

house fireI recently had an experience that I felt I should share with others.  It was a first time experience and I truly hope it’s my last of its kind.

I manage a small number of apartments for a family trust.  All of the apartments are in Woburn and are spread out over 4 buildings.  I handle collecting the rents, overseeing maintenance projects, addressing and coordinating repairs needed, bookkeeping and a few other related duties.  My duties changed big time when I got a call from one of the owners telling me there was a fire in one of the homes.  And so my experience begins…

On my way to the property I received a call from a restoration person who was at the site.  He introduced himself and proceeded to explain his role in the process.  He was very thorough and so before I got to the scene I was beginning to understand what I was in for.  When I got there, the fire department was actively fighting to get control of the fire.  As I watched from the sidewalk, I realized there were more “support” people there.  I was soon introduced to a public adjuster, a person who boarded up and winterized, another person who did the clean out and restoration, a police detective, a fireman, a second public adjuster, a second boarder up person and on and on it went.

I began to realize I had a responsibility on site to hire the person from each category that I would be working with that would ultimately result in the home being habitable again. I listened attentively as each person offered their advice as well as promoted their skills above all the others.  Overall it was like a fraternity meeting.  Everyone knew everyone else and each seemed as qualified as the next for the function that they performed.

I spoke to the owner who lives out of state and shared my experience.  My decision was made easier by several factors.  The public adjuster had a history with the home and had been involved with a past incident.  Hired!  The restoration person was already known to me and I have known and used his father for years.  Hired!  And the final choice for the company to winterize and board it up was based on name recognition of the company and the information shared by the representative on site.  Hired!  Just in a matter of minutes, I had hired the 3 main components of the restoration process, signed contracts for each under an umbrella as the rain poured down and I had a comfort level that we were moving forward as best we could.  All of the non-hired representatives left the scene in a flash!

The whole process, at least until we can begin the repair and rebuild process will take a few months at minimum.  At least I am confident that the people working with me will make it easier to get to that point.  I hope that this never happens again, but if it does, I now know what to do.

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author: Roland Spadafora is one of the broker owners of RE/MAX Legacy and wears many real estate hats. One of them is property manager. You can learn more about him on his website www.spadaforateam.com


2014 was a great year!  We ended the year with higher than typical volume and increased home values.  As we enter 2015, 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 finished higher than the previous year, and the volume although lower, was still higher than historical averages.  Fewer homes were sold, mainly due to a lower inventory.  On a relative basis, Woburn is more affordable than the other local towns, but maintains a similar growth in home value.  Interest rates remain low and had actually dropped over the course of 2014.  The experts predict higher rates in 2015, so a buyer waiting on the sidelines should see this as an optimum time to buy.  Rates could go up, and at least for now, prices are moving up as well.

Looking back over 2014, in the north of Boston area, we saw market time decrease, bidding wars, especially on lower priced homes in need of renovation, fewer distressed homes, and an 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, Wakefield, Stoneham, Wilmington and Woburn.

Here is a table for these local towns that captures the trend data:

Town Average Sale Price Last 12 Months % Change Last 12 Months % Change from 2005 High
Reading $520,571 +5.73% +8.33%
Burlington $512,312 +14.36% +16.09%
Melrose $497,182 +13.37% +9.66%
Wakefield $468,245 +4.20% +4.00%
Stoneham $461,611 +4.59% +1.90%
Wilmington $423,375 +8.11% -6.71%
Woburn $404,169 +6.43% -1.93%

Interestingly, all of the local towns have shown strong gains over the previous year.  Most of the towns have exceeded the highs of 2005 when the market reached its peak (and just before the economy sent prices downward).  Only Wilmington and Woburn have not returned to the levels attained in 2005.  Looking ahead, let’s hope for continued gains in local real estate values, and thus a continued strong real estate market.

chart

 

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)
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


doctorWay back, when I was only 48, I had colon cancer and survived.  I didn’t know I had colon cancer, and although the signs were there for almost a year, I never gave it a thought.  And then I had a sore back and I was going on a field trip with my son and his school to Amish Country in Pennsylvania.   My back was so sore, I thought about canceling.  My sister came to the rescue by providing me with some heavy duty anti-inflammatory pills (Naproxen) that really helped.  This type of pill works great but like aspirin, it does thin your blood.

While on the trip, the bleeding that had only been slight for the last year became significant, and it finally raised a red flag with me.   When I returned from the trip I called my primary care doctor, and after an office visit that confirmed the presence of blood, he arranged for me to see a specialist.  A sigmoidoscopy was scheduled.  A sigmoidoscopy is a less traumatic scope than a full colonoscopy and the procedure was performed in the specialist’s office.   A polyp was located and removed, and it was sent it to the lab.  When my primary care doctor left me a message to have him paged at the hospital, I knew it wasn’t good.

Subsequently I had a resection (removal of a section of my colon), and the surgeon was confidant the cancerous area had been contained within the wall of the removed section.  No chemo for me.  I was lucky!  If I had waited, who knows what the outcome would have been, but most likely, I wouldn’t be writing this blog.  Because of my experience, my father and my supervisor at Polaroid reacted to the symptoms that they were experiencing that were similar to mine.  Both saw their doctors and it was determined that they each had colon cancer that required surgery.  My experience increased their awareness and resulted in the early detection of colon cancer for both.

So what is the lesson learned?  For me, most importantly is to know my body.  When something feels or looks different, have it checked out.  The signs were there and I ignored them for a year, assuming the least, and not even considering the worst.  If you need a procedure, like a colonoscopy, believe me, it is better than the alternative.  See your primary care doctor regularly and have an annual physical.  Remember the life you save, may be your own…


Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author: Roland Spadafora is one of the Broker Owners at RE/MAX Legacy.  He can be contacted through his website at www.spadaforateam.com

 


DehumidifierIn an earlier blog, I wrote about the importance of running a humidifier in the winter time. (Benefits of a Humidifier)  The flip side of that is the importance of running a dehumidifier in the summer time.  A dehumidifier cools the ambient air in the environment, usually basement areas.   In the process of cooling the air, moisture absorbed in the air is condensed into a collection reservoir.   The reservoir can have an automatic overflow shut-off or can be configured to flow into a drain or a sump.  It can also be manually emptied when full.

The question to ask is why do I need it?  In the typical basement which is below grade, there are several factors at play.  The ground contains moisture and the old stone, block or cement foundations are porous and allow moisture into the basement.  Excess moisture creates dampness, and could lead to mold or mildew.  Any items of value such as furniture or books will eventually be damaged or destroyed by the moisture.  Your basement will also smell damp and the odor will carry through your home.

Another factor is relative humidity or dew point as referred to by your local weatherperson.  On humid days and in cool basements, dew point is important.  A high dew point will result in moisture condensing on the cool basement walls, causing the same potential condition identified above.   Dew point is the temperature at which saturated air will condense on a surface.  A lower dew point indicates there is less moisture in the air.

A dehumidifier can be the solution.  It runs on electricity and works like a refrigerator or an air conditioner.  Coils with gas inside are cooled and provide a surface for the “wet” air to pass over.   The moisture is extracted out of the air and condensed on the cold coils.  Water drips into a collection reservoir and you would be surprised at how quickly it fills up.  If the water is not automatically drained out, then it would be best to have a device that automatically shuts off when the reservoir is full.  Otherwise the excess water will spill over onto the floor of the basement.

If a home has no basement or is built on a slab, you may also need a dehumidifier as high humidity will condense on the cool floor.

Prices for effective dehumidifiers are typically between $150 and $350.  Buying a recognized brand name is wise as the company will hopefully be there if there is a problem or a repair needed.

We tend to hang onto things longer and when we run out of space, we will store things in the basement.  If something is of value, either sentimental or monetary, you should protect its value by using a dehumidifier.  A dehumidifier is a wise investment.

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author: Roland Spadafora is one of the Broker Owners at RE/MAX Legacy.  He can be contacted through his website at www.spadaforateam.com

 


Vacation Cabin (2)Have you ever thought about owning a second home?  Perhaps a cottage on a lake or a chalet near a ski area is a goal or dream of yours?  It might even be a boat, provided it meets the IRS criteria as a second home.  The question you need to ask is “am I ready and able to own a vacation home?”

I owned a vacation home once, and at that time in my life, it provided weekends of fun and relaxation on a lake in New Hampshire.  It sometimes caused stress and financial burden too.  For instance, once a tree fell on the roof and caused some significant damage.  This is not an easy situation to handle when you live 100 miles away.  And when you close it up in the fall, you never know what you will find when you reopen in the spring or “who” has been living there.

So let me share some of the benefits and pitfalls of owning a vacation home.  Then you can decide if it’s right for you.

The obvious benefit is that a vacation home provides an escape from the hectic pace of everyday life.  Pack up the car on Friday night and off you go for a fun filled weekend.

There are potential tax benefits and deductions that can be taken with a second home.  Follow the guidelines that the IRS offers regarding qualifying second homes.  When in doubt, check with your tax professional to get a better understanding of your deductions.

It is an investment, and like your principal residence, could result in increased value over the years.

There are always projects in the vacation home, and if you would like to become a qualified do-it-yourselfer, then it’s a great place to practice and learn how to do things you might eventually need to do at home.  Small carpentry projects, plumbing repairs, and the like, are commonplace in a vacation home.

On the downside is the potential for your vacation home to drain your finances with maintenance and repairs.  Just like at home, taxes and association cost can increase.   Even the cost of going there could increase with the cost of gasoline.

Just like in the movie “Field of Dreams”, if you build it they will come, well, with a vacation home, if you own it, you must go.  If it’s there, there is an expectation that you must use it.  So you will go to your vacation home and perhaps you didn’t handle a home project or attend a back home activity that was important to you.

When I owned my cottage, it was truly a place to relax, unwind, socialize with friends and neighbors, get a tan, and get in better shape through physical projects and recreational activities.  I owned it for 7+ years, and regretted selling it when I did for financial reasons.  My kids were disappointed at the time and still will comment over 25 years later “I wish we still had the cottage”.  At least they still have the memories of the fun times.

In making your decision, think about the things I’ve outlined above.   Weigh the plusses and minuses and hopefully you will have your answer.  Good luck and enjoy!

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author: Roland Spadafora is one of the Broker Owners at RE/MAX Legacy.  Roland has experienced the fun and frustrations of owning a vacation home.  He can be contacted through his website at www.spadaforateam.com


Category: Family, Home Buying

Humidifier PhotoBenefits of a Humidifier

It’s wintertime and if you haven’t noticed, the air in our environments is very dry.  Dry air can lead to many problems, including dry itchy skin on humans and pets, dry hair and scalp, dry nasal passages, potential for static electricity and drying out of the wood in our furniture.  Fortunately there is a solution.  You can add moisture to your air at home or in your office via a humidifier.

Relative humidity is a measure of the moisture in the air.  At a given temperature, it is the amount of moisture in the air vs. the maximum it could hold.  Typically relative humidity of 40% or higher will minimize the conditions noted above.  Without a humidifier in your home, humidity can drop very low down into the 20’s or lower.  Lower relative humidity will contribute to your feeling colder than you should because the dry air is causing moisture to evaporate off your skin creating a colder feeling.

There are a variety of humidifiers and they come in a variety of sizes.  I’ve had one for many years and it holds about 6 gallons of water.  On dry days, it adds all 6 gallons into the air, and maintains our home at around 40% relative humidity.

It is very important to control the humidity so that you are not adding too much moisture into your home.  If there is a cold surface, the excess moisture could condense on that surface and eventually cause mold.  This is most likely to occur in your attic, so be aware, and control the moisture getting into your attic by the location and placement of the humidifier and having a barrier that insulates the living area from the attic.

To assist you in choosing a humidifier, run a Google search and ask “how to choose the right humidifier for my home” and you will come up with many valuable pages of information for choosing what is right for you.  Here is one from Home Depot to get you started: Select the Right humidifier

Once you’ve chosen the humidifier that is right for your circumstances, get it set-up and running as soon as possible.  You will feel the difference in a very short time.

Roland Crop 2011 jpeg (1)About the author: Roland Spadafora is one of the Broker Owners at RE/MAX Legacy.  He can be contacted through his website at www.spadaforateam.com