Feb. 26, 2020

To FSBO or Not to FSBO

To FSBO or not to FSBO, that is the question.An example of what you do not save by selling your home on your own!

An acquaintance couple recently told me they will save $9,000 by not using an agent to list their home. Here is a breakdown of their costs so far, both in time and in money. 



They paid $850 to "list" their house on MLS.They must answer all inquiries, arrange showings and accompany showings of potential buyers who do not have an agent.They are paying their attorney $1700 to do paperwork (exclusive of the closing) and hold any deposits.The house has been on the market for over 3 weeks yet only 4 people have come to see it (two of them nosy neighbors).They've held 3 open houses totaling 9 hours of their time that could have been spent enjoying themselves elsewhere.They are panicking now, as they "need" to sell by the end of March.So what are they doing wrong that’s leading to their house languishing on the market?


They lack captivating professional photos and video.Dark photos and strange angles do not entice buyers to come see a home in person


Their MLS write-up should highlight the features & upgrades of their home and emphasize the amenities of their neighborhood rather than just saying “in a gated community”


They need to point out the fact that the property is a free-standing condo and not a single family home and disclose that the property is in a 55+ development (they had one very disappointed young couple who came to an open house)


They need to work with an attorney who specializes in real estate and understands the process


They need continual market analyses and unbiased feedback, not just the “comps” they found on those home-search websites.These websites do not give them information on sales trends and pricing in specific neighborhoods, and do not compare condition and amenities of properties


They need to understand and be comfortable with the forms, processes and timeline of selling


They lack staging and marketing advice


They are not sending out targeted mailings or networking with other Realtors and buyers, and their social media presence is limited to their personal Facebook pages

- They require excellent negotiating skills to get them the best price and terms of sale




Need I continue? 

In the end, they aren’t really saving $9,000.  They are just setting themselves up for a frustrating failure and leaving money on the table.



Posted in Home Seller
Feb. 20, 2020

Enjoy Your Weekend with These Events!

The 11th Annual New England Winter Blues Festival hits the Blue Ocean Event Center in Salisbury on Saturday.  Award winning soul, blues and R&B vocalist Curtis Salgado will be joined by GA-20, Gina Sicilia and Troy Gonyea.  Tickets and more info at http://www.blueoceanhall.com/


“Uncanny Harbor” makes its film debut at a Red Carpet premiere at the Larcom Theatre in Beverly on Saturday at 7:30 pm.  The film was shot mostly on Plum Island by local filmmaker Nick Valaskatgis.  The film is a mix of science fiction and horror and is about a man whose wife disappeared 25 years earlier.  The original short version of the film won Best Science Fiction Short at the 2017 New York Science Fiction Film Festival.  www.thelarcom.org


The Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover hosts its “Get Outside – February Vacation” events.  On Friday kids can learn about birds through stories and a bird-feeder craft (no peanut butter will be used).  The activities take place outside, so dress for the weather!  Recommended age group is 6-8 but all are welcome.   www.thetrustees.org


The Vineyard Vines Warehouse Sale is back!  Check out the special prices on the popular clothing at the sale at Everett Mills at 15 Union Street (3rd Floor) in Lawrence.  Open daily through March 1st.  Monday-Saturday 10-6 and Sunday 12-6.


Friday and Saturday is Lowell’s annual Winterfest Weekend!  There will be lots of food, live music and fun activities including a soup competition, chocolate festival, kids’ fun zone, horse and carriage rides and so much more!  www.LowellWinterfest.com


Enjoy a taste or two of Italy at The Beehive Bartender Series at The Beehive on Tremont Street in Boston.  On Sunday from 6-10 PM the Beehive bartenders will prepare an exclusive cocktail list using the Italian staple Amaro dell’Etna.  The recipe for Amaro dell’Etna includes 26 all natural ingredients including orange peel, licorice and vanilla, and dates to 1901.  While sipping your cocktails you can enjoy the blues stylings of Bruce Bears.  https://www.beehiveboston.com/


Celebrate Mardi Gras at Veasey Memorial Park in Groveland on Saturday from 4-8 pm.  The family-friendly event includes live music, so bring your dancing shoes!  There will also be traditional Mardi Gras food, make-your-own mask, trivia, a shoebox float parade and more.  https://www.veaseypark.org/


Clay Workshop for Kids at Bee’s Knees at Mill 77 Trading Company in Newburyport on Saturday at noon.  Kids can make their own Owl Tray using a variety of tools and clay, while they explore patterns and textures.  Water and a snack are also included.  https://mill77.com/


Rent a Sugar Maple Bucket and experience sugaring first-hand!  The Mass Audubon Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield is the site of this two hour family-friendly program.  You’ll get to tap your own tree, learn how to make syrup and have a pancake breakfast in the sugarhouse.  Plus, you’ll get a bottle of fresh maple syrup to take home!  www.massaudubon.org


Friends Concert Series at Memorial Hall Library in Andover on Saturday at 2:30 pm.  Enjoy an afternoon of American Songbook selections from the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and 50’s with Eric Baldwin and Friends.  Baldwin is an Andover resident who is well versed in many jazz styles. 


Grab your skates and head to MarketStreet Lynnfield on Saturday from 10 am – 12 pm for a Superhero Skate!  Head to Superhero Headquarters at Capital One Cafe for a complimentary Meet & Greet with Spider-Man and Wonder Woman, viewing of Spider-Man, and treats fit for a hero. Grab your cape and then fly over to The Rink to enjoy complimentary skating.


Open Houses!  It’s going to be nice and warm for checking out some open houses on Sunday.  Let us know if you’d like a list of properties and times and we’ll be happy to provide one to you. 


Posted in Weekend Fun
Feb. 13, 2020

Spend Some Time with Your Valentine This Weekend!

Spend Some Time with Your Valentine This Weekend!


The Salem State University Theater Department presents “Bedroom Farce” this weekend and next at the Callan Studio Theater, 352 Lafayette Street, Salem.  The comedy debuted in England in 1975 and won two Tony Awards in 1979 for its Broadway production.  The Alan Ayckbourn play centers around three married couples struggling to let a fourth couple into their circle. www.salemstatetickets.com


Not a fan of Valentine’s Day, or facing the thought of going it alone? Then the Anti-Valentine Tour in Salem, Ma on Friday and Saturday nights might be just the thing you need! The tour focuses on murderous marriages, love gone wrong and the worst that Valentine’s Day has to offer.  Hosted by Salem Night Tour, more info at www.salemghosttours.com.  Or head to Boston to the Anti-Valentine’s Day Party at Longboards Restaurant and Bar on Wharf Street.  There will be drink and food specials and a raffle to cheer up at least the happy winner!  www.longboardsbar.com


Dance the night away at the annual Valentine’s Dance with Dan Gable at Newburyport City Hall.  From 6:30-10:00 pm you can enjoy the music, dance to your heart’s content (pun intended) and even take a swing dance lesson from 6:30-7:30. 


Are you more into jazz than swing dancing?  The Me & Thee Coffeehouse in Marblehead is hosting New Black Eagle Jazz Band on Friday from 8-10 pm.  The listening room at the coffeehouse is just the place to enjoy the live jazz band!  28 Mugford Street, Marblehead.


Take your BFF or go on your own to the Galentine’s Day Party at Peabody’s Black Box at 22 Foster Street.  It promises to be a fun-filled night of shopping, bubbly, bites, special guests, photo booth, mingling and music!  Pre-register at www.ne-arc.org


Head to the beautiful Garrison Inn in Newburyport and indulge in High Tea in the Ladyfinger Room.  This hidden gem is the prettiest and most feminine room in town, and your tea will be poured from antique silver pots and served in bone china tea cups.  A truly special way to spend some relaxing time on Sunday afternoon. http://www.garrisoninn.com/ladyfinger 


Share an evening with your little loves at the Valentine Day Family Dance Party at Riverwalk Brewing in Newburyport.  The family-friendly event takes place on Friday from 5-8.  The kids can dance, do crafts and fill up at the pizza buffet.  Adults will enjoy high end appetizers and amazing desserts.  There will be a photo booth to preserve your family memories, and of course, dancing!


Pack up the kids and go to Derry’s Frost Festival on Sunday from 11 am – 3 pm.  There will be a petting zoo, bonfire, ice sculptures, puppet show, sledding (BYOS), food, games and more!  The event is free and takes place at the Alexander Carr Playground at 28 Pierce Ave in Derry, NH.


Pretend the snow isn’t here and bring some greenery into your life!  Make a 6” seashell planter with succulents.  Saturday from 10-12 at Holten Street Creative Spaces, 88 Holten Street in Danvers.  Register in advance at www.holtenstreet.com, price includes all materials.


Practice your routine and join in Open Mic Night at Coffee & Cotton at 250 Jackson Street (4th floor) in Lowell.  Share your music, comedy, dance or anything you choose to express yourself.  Grab some food and drink, sign ups start at 7 pm, music starts at 8, free for all ages!


Open Houses!  The weather is looking spring-like for Sunday, so plan to check out some of the local open houses.  Or contact one of the team for specific addresses and times, or to schedule a private showing of any property currently on the market!

Posted in Weekend Fun
Feb. 6, 2020

Fun "Stuff" for the Weekend!

Enjoy the Weekend!


Valentine’s Sip & Shop at Boston Billiard Club & Casino in Nashua.  There will plenty of vendors to help you find those unique gifts or to pamper yourself!  Vendors include Pink Zebra, Savvi Fit boutique,  Color Street, Party Time Mixes, Athenas, Tupperware, Arbonne, Mary Kay, Papparazzi, Chaotic Lily, Pampered Chef, Mickey Guru Travel, 31 and Younique.  Friday from 6-9 pm.


Warm up your Winter with Fire & Ice at Castle Hill.  Enjoy magnificent ice sculptures, roaring bonfires, cool ice bars, and thrilling fire performances in the beautiful outdoor setting of the Great House courtyard and surrounding areas. You'll also find live music, dancing, outdoor games, s'more-making, warming nibbles, hot chocolate, and cash beer and wine bars. The Great House will be open for warming up and restrooms.  Tickets must be purchased in advance and you must be 21+ to attend.  Friday from 6-10 pm.  www.thetrustees.org


Kick off your Sunday shoes and go see Footloose the Musical, presented by the North Andover High School Drama Guild!  Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the North Andover High School Auditorium, just $15 or $10 for students and seniors.  Purchase tickets at the door or online at  www.actingouttheater.com


Punxsatawney Phil said spring will be here before you know it, so why not check out the New England Boat Show at Boston Convention & Exhibition Center.  The show starts on Saturday.  Find your dream boat, participate in hands-on learning, dynamic demos, interactive activities and listen to entertaining speakers.  https://www.newenglandboatshow.com/


Have some outdoor fun at the 2nd Annual Wilderness Festival at Camp Denison on Nelson Street in Georgetown.  This family-friendly event will have a bonfire to keep you warm along with a long list of winter activities including nature-based crafts (indoors), sledding & ice skating, primitive fire-building lessons, shelter-building competition, s’mores and more!  Saturday 10-2.


It’s the Big Air & Rail Jam at McIntyre Ski Area in Manchester, NH.  From 1-3 pm you can test your jump skills off the custom-made groomed jump!  Each participant gets 2 runs to show their best jumps, twists and turns.  Prizes will be awarded to biggest air, best jump and best overall.  From 5:30pm-7:30 pm is the Rail Jam! Each participant gets two runs to showcase their best moves on the rail!  Age categories for both events are 12 & under, 13-17 and over 17.  Prizes will be awarded in all three age groups.  The registration fee includes an afternoon half day lift ticket.  https://www.mcintyreskiarea.com/


If you’re a long-time local resident you likely remember North Andover’s Boston Ski Hill.  If you don’t remember, did you know there was a ski hill in town?  Either way, come hear about the history of the ski area at a lecture and slide show presented by ski hill founder Bob Dunn.  Sponsored by the North Andover Historical Society, the presentation takes place in the Brightview multipurpose room at 1275 Turnpike Street on Saturday at 2 pm.


Who doesn’t love seeing ice sculptures?  Here’s your chance!  Salem’s So Sweet Chocolate and Ice Sculpture Festival celebrates its 5th year this weekend in downtown Salem.  There will be chocolate and wine tasting, special discounts at many local shops, trolley rides and ice sculptures throughout the downtown area.  Saturday night from 5-9 the sculptures will be illuminated, making for a magical sight!  www.salemsosweet.com


The Russian School of Mathematics on Haverhill Street in Andover hosts “Math Treasure Hunt in Winter Wonderland” at the school on Friday from 5-7 pm.  There will be lots of fun activities, tricky games and dazzling crafts that will lead you to the treasure chest! All Elementary school kids are welcome, bring your family and friends!


It’s not too early to be thinking about summer programs for the kiddos!  The Mother Connection’s Camp & Enrichment Fair takes place Saturday from 9:30-11:30 at the Andover School of Montessori on S. Main Street.  Discover the many options available for summer fun and enrichment, and some year-round activities as well.  Representatives from Brooks School, Empow Studios/STEM Enrichment, Grotonwood, Tinkergarten and many, many more will be in attendance. 


Skeletons in the Closet: A lecture by Historian Daniel Gagnon on the Memorialization of George Jacobs Sr. and Rebecca Nurse after the 1692 Witch Trials.  Mr. Gagnon will trace the story of how the Nurse family and the Danvers community constructed the first memorial to anyone executed for witchcraft in the United States. Learn how Danvers (formerly Salem Village) began to acknowledge its role in the witch hunt hysteria even before the City of Salem did.  Sunday at 2:00 pm at the Felton-Smith Historic Site Smith Barn at 38 Felton Street in Peabody.


Open Houses:  Check out this Sunday’s Open Houses!  Let us know if you’d like specific information on times and locations, or if you’d like to schedule a private showing of any properties currently on the market!

Posted in Weekend Fun
Feb. 4, 2020

Is Now the Time to Sell?

According to a recent study, the percentage of all buyers that will be first-time buyers looking to purchase a home grew from 58% at the end of 2018 to 63% at the end of 2019.  As you would probably expect, Millennials are the most likely generation to be making plans to purchase a home within a year, followed by Gen Z and Gen X.  Prospective buyers in the youngest two generations are primarily first-time buyers, while Millennials may be looking to “move up”.  Your home may just fit the bill!


With high demand from first-time homebuyers and a shortage of inventory in the current market, selling your existing home this year might be your best move.  With increased activity among buyers, you as a current homeowner have a great opportunity to sell your existing house now and move up into a new one – or “right size” into a home that better fits your current needs.


So if you’re ready to take advantage of low mortgage rates and a high demand for your existing home, let us know!  Our full service, full spectrum team is ready to help you with clean outs, donating and selling household items and furnishings, making repairs, updating, staging and more.  Let’s connect so we can discuss your options, review the local market in depth and help you prep your home to take advantage of the current market!

Posted in Home Seller
Jan. 30, 2020

It's February Already!

It’s February Already!

Enjoy the music of the New Hampshire Philharmonic Orchestra as it presents “Winter Idylls – Springtime Visions” on Saturday and Sunday at the Seifert Performing Arts Center in Salem.For more info or tickets www.nhpo.booktix.com

Saturday is National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day at Putnam Pantry Candies, Ice Creams & Café in Danvers.Make your own waffle sundae for breakfast! The smorgasbord will be open from 7:30-12:30 and will feature special breakfast themed items. *portions of the proceeds will be donated to the Colleen Ritzer Foundation and the food bank.https://www.putnampantry.com/

It’s the 23rd Kids’ Carnival in Salem, NH.Saturday from 11 am – 4 pm there will be fun activities, demonstrations, raffles and snacks at the Woodbury Middle School at 206 Main Street.Free Admission!

Garden Dreams Winter Sculptures at The Stevens Coolidge Place in North Andover! Let your imagination and creativity run free where you will design, build and embellish winter sculptures using nature’s bounty. Work as a family, a group of friends or pair up when you arrive and work together as a team to add imaginative sculptural elements to the Stevens-Coolidge gardens. Cocoa will be served to keep your hands warm and busy!This is a drop-in event and your props are welcome. Saturday from 12-3 pm. www.thetrustees.org

Learn the basics of beekeeping, taught by Soney Bees from Haverhill.The class takes place Saturday from 12-3 at the Locally Handmade store on the 2nd floor of the Mall at Rockingham Park.If you haven’t heard of Soney Bees, check out their website where you can see their products and services, including beekeeping start up equipment, swarm removal and yummy and healthy honey products! https://www.soneybees.com/

Saturday from Noon to 5 pm is the February Open Studios at Western Avenue in Lowell, where over 300 artists will exhibit in the historic mill building. The Loading Dock Gallery kicks off their second art show of the year titled “I Heart…” with a reception that celebrates the work the artists put into this show. As part of the reception, you get a unique experience of speaking firsthand to some of the artists who created artwork featured in this show.There will also be speakers and Navigation Brewing Co. will offer their current brews that are made onsite. Do some Valentine’s shopping and end your day with a delicious Clyde’s Cupcake!https://westernavenuestudios.com/

Snowshoes and S’Mores at Appleton Farms on County Road in Ipswich.Take a snowy exploration of Appleton on snowshoes as you loop through the pastures and woodlands and return to the farmstead to warm up by the fire with hot cocoa and s'mores. All ages and abilities are welcome. No experience is necessary. If there isn't enough snow, there will be a hike!Saturday from 1-3 pm.www.thetrustees.org

Check out the Winter Farmers’ Market in Newburyport!Stock up on local produce, free range meats, baked goods, crafts and more on Sunday from 10 am – 1 pm.There will be a guest appearance by some special furry friends, too!The market takes place at the Tannery Marketplace Event Tent. www.thenewburyportfarmersmarket.org/

Get ready for your Super Bowl viewing with Sunday Brunch and Blankets!  Make a chunky hand-knit throw or blanket at this fun class hosted by Create and Escape DIY Workshops at the Black Box at 22 Foster Street in Peabody.  Brunch is included with the class, but guests buy their own yarn, which will cost $5 and up at any craft store.  For more info https://www.createandescapediy.com/

Want to watch the Super Bowl but not have the mess of a party at your house?Or prefer to drown your Patriots-less Super Bowl sorrows with others like you?Head to one of the local spots hosting a party, including “The Biggest Super Bowl Tailgate Party in Harvard Square” at Beat Brew Hall in Cambridge; the “Bud Light Super Bowl Party” at Nashoba Valley Ski Area; “Super Bowl 54” Party at Chuck’s Tavern in Methuen; “Super Bowl Sunday Party” at Biltmore & Main in Reading; “Super Sunday Eat & Play” at In the Game in Peabody or the “Super Bowl Party” at Boston Billiard Club & Casino in Nashua.

Turn on the news on Sunday and find out if Punxsatawny Phil sees his shadow or not.Then make some popcorn and watch “Groundhog Day” with the kids, or just to relive your younger days while Phil Connors (Bill Murray) relives Groundhog Day over and over again in the 1993 movie.

Open Houses!Come check out this Sunday’s Open Houses, with plenty of time left over to get back and watch the Super Bowl – or maybe just the Super Bowl commercials.Maybe next year you’ll be watching the Super Bowl in your new home!

Jan. 28, 2020

What is an HOA?

What is an HOA?

Before you purchase a home governed by a homeowners association, be sure you know what will be expected of you.  Whether you're a first time homeowner or a homeowner new to an HOA, it can be difficult and time consuming to understand exactly what your responsibilities are and how HOA rules will be enforced.


A homeowners association (aka, HOA) is an organization in a neighborhood, community or complex that determines and upholds a set of rules or standards for its properties and residents. People used to think HOAs are just for condo complexes, but they are becoming increasingly popular in the U.S as people look more and more to maintain a specific quality of life in these communities and protect property values for all homeowners. These associations typically charge homeowners a fee or regular dues to help maintain things like common areas, landscaping or other amenities.  You can also be subject to more than one HOA.  If you live in a large planned community, there may be separate neighborhood associations plus one master association.  This means, of course, that you’ll be subject to more than one fee, although master association fees tend to be paid just once per year. 


Who's creates HOA rules and regulations?

An HOA is typically made up of elected community residents who sit on a board of directors. When you purchase a home in a community that's governed by an HOA, you automatically become a member of the homeowners association (and in fact, you are usually required to). The board members tend to have regular meetings open to homeowners to discuss major issues and concerns facing the community.  HOAs are governed by bylaws that dictate how the HOA will be run, including when and where meetings will be held, how voting will take place and what member roles and responsibilities will be. The HOA will also create governing documents such as rules and regulations, bylaws, covenants, restrictions and budgets.


What kind of rules does an HOA enforce?

HOAs help all homeowners remain equally responsible for shared common spaces such as landscaping, elevators, swimming pools, clubhouses, parking garages, fitness centers, sidewalks, security gates, etc. In addition, HOAs define a set of rules known as covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) that all residents must follow. CC&Rs vary from association to association, but guidelines generally deal with architectural features like fences, pools, porches or other exterior home features.  Other common restrictions cover things such as line-drying laundry, satellite dishes, pets and restrictions on parking certain types of vehicles. With the increasing interest in short-term rentals such as VRBO and Air BnB, many associations are also putting limitations on the frequency and duration of rentals allowed.


How are HOA rules enforced?

HOA rules are generally legally enforceable and penalties are appointed when violations occur. Consequences can be severe depending on the nature and length of your violation, and can include fines, legal action, or—in the worst cases—eviction. If you openly commit a crime or break a law, the HOA can report it directly to authorities.  If you're unable to or refuse to pay your HOA fees, there can be penalties similar to missing mortgage payments. If you run into tough times and are unable to pay your HOA fees, try proactively communicating with your Board of Directors before you miss even one payment.  If you want to sell your home and you owe HOA fees you will likely have to pay the back fees before closing, or at a minimum, out of the proceeds of the sale at closing.


What are the pros of living in an HOA community?

-          Communities with required HOAs typically provide shared spaces and common areas like pools, clubhouses, sport courts and other amenities homeowners may not be able to afford on their own

-          HOAs are generally responsible for maintaining and repairing any shared or common spaces so you can enjoy that pool without having to take care of it!

-          HOAs help homes in the community retain their value

-          HOAs can mediate conflicts and issues between community members as they arise.

And the cons:

-          HOA fees are an additional expense that generally only goes up!

-          There are hoops to jump through if you're interested in modifying, renovating or remodeling certain aspects of your home, including painting the exterior the color of your choice or putting up holiday decorations

-          You may miss a sense of autonomy and privacy that HOAs control


The final word

In the end, purchasing a home that has an HOA depends on your lifestyle and what you're looking for in a home. Just be sure to read all the governing documents of the HOA before committing to a purchase to make sure they are agreeable to you.  Your Realtor should request these documents be available prior to your needing to sign any purchase & sale agreement so you'll have time to investigate and digest, and make an informed decision about purchasing!

Posted in Homebuyer
July 31, 2017

Curious About Local Real Estate?

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Curious about local real estate? So are we! Every month we review trends in our real estate market and consider the number of homes on the market in each price tier, the amount of time particular homes have been listed for sale, specific neighborhood trends, the median price and square footage of each home sold and so much more. We’d love to invite you to do the same!

Get Local Market Reports Sent Directly to You

You can sign up here to receive your own market report, delivered as often as you like! It contains current information on pending, active and just sold properties so you can see actual homes in your neighborhood. You can review your area on a larger scale, as well, by refining your search to include properties across the city or county. As you notice price and size trends, please contact us for clarification or to have any questions answered.

We can definitely fill you in on details that are not listed on the report and help you determine the best home for you. If you are wondering if now is the time to sell, please try out our INSTANT home value tool. You’ll get an estimate on the value of your property in today’s market. Either way, we hope to hear from you soon as you get to know our neighborhoods and local real estate market better.

Posted in Market Updates