June 16, 2021

Add Some Quiet to Your Life

Got kids, friends and family headed to your house for the summer?  Have a new home with high ceilings and an open floor plan? Are you already worried about all the extra noise headed your way to disrupt your summer enjoyment?  Here are some tips for reducing sound to make your summer (and fall, winter and spring) more quiet and restful.

Cover Hard Surfaces

Hard, highly reflective surfaces are among the worst sound offenders. While your gleaming hardwood and new big tile floors may look beautiful, they aren’t as beautiful to your ears!  Since you can’t replace the flooring, add some softer materials to the space such as area rugs with a sound-absorbing pad underneath, and fabric-covered furniture.

Reduce Echoing

In open floor plans, sound can bounce everywhere!  To reduce echoes in open spaces you can use fabric-covered decorative panels on walls to help with sound absorption.  Artwork can also be used as a sound barrier – and there are even foam products that can be put behind canvased art to mitigate noise!   Another option is to add bookcases against walls to help absorb sounds.  Even without filling the shelves you’ll get some sound deadening benefits.

Shades & Drapes

There are all sorts of window covering options to reduce noise.  Drapes and curtains made with heavy fabric are effective at absorbing noise.  Heavy window treatments not your style?  Try Roman shades, cellular shades and plantation shutters.  All help reduce indoor sound and also outside noise.

Seal Doors & Windows

Soundproofing companies offer acoustic door seal kits that fit snugly around doors or window edges to reduce sound coming through cracks.

Greenery

Plants not only improve air quality, they can also help reduce noise, especially on hard-surface floors.  Sound will bounce from the wall onto the foliage, rather than throughout the room.  For best results, use a tall potted plant in the corners of rooms.

Enjoy

Take a deep breath and enjoy your new-found quiet!

 

Posted in General Info
May 10, 2021

WE BRING LEVERAGE TO THE TABLE FOR YOU!

 

It may seem like houses sell themselves these days, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for less money than your home is really worth.  We manage the process for our sellers, ensuring the best possible price. 

 

WE BRING LEVERAGE TO THE TABLE FOR YOU!

 

 -  INTENSIVE knowledge of the market, based on over 30 years of award-winning performance

  -   INSIGHT into any improvements that should be made to enhance your home’s value and appeal

  -   FINELY crafted print and digital marketing to reach those buyers who are truly ready and able to purchase

 -  PROFESSIONAL photography and videography, carefully curated, to best showcase your home

 -  ABILITY to deconstruct offers to determine the best overall offer to fit your needs and goals

 

Even with today’s increased demand and limited supply, we don’t cut corners or leave our sellers to figure things out on their own just to make a fast sale.  We would never do that!  We work as hard as always to make sure you receive true market value for your home.

 

Posted in Home Seller
May 3, 2021

Being Energy Efficient Can Pay

Being energy efficient can pay – literally!  

Try the following tips to keep your energy – and your wallet – in check.

 

#1 – Know your airflow

Vents provide a place for air in your home to flow freely.  Obstructing vents can make the HVAC system work sub-optimally and drive up your energy bill, so make sure your vents are at least 18 inches clear of couches or other furniture.

#2 – Adjust your thermostat

Air conditioners can be big energy wasters.  Go warmer in hotter months while still being comfortable.  Heading out?   Adjust your temperature up a few degrees when you leave the house to save energy.  Install programmable (smart) thermostats to adjust the temperature automatically and save you money.

#3 – Replace air filters

Regularly replacing dirty air filters helps regulate airflow through your home.  And since a large chunk of your energy bill comes from your HVAC system, changing your air filters frequently helps save in the long run.

#4 – Take advantage of free cooling

Keeping your curtains and blinds closed at the right times can reduce your energy use.  On hot days, the sun's light shines into your home, heating the interior.  By closing the blinds, you keep direct sunlight out of your home (which also prevents fading of furnishings) and prevent yourself from touching that thermostat.  During those cooler days and nights, opening your blinds at least a little can allow heat to escape to the cool night air.

#5 – Simplify dish washing

Scrape extra food from your dinner plates – rather than rinsing – to save water and energy.  Today’s energy efficient dishwashers can also use less water than what you’d use to rinse or hand wash dishes.

#6 – Get laundry smart

Wash laundry in cold water when possible, using full loads but not overfilling the washer.  Dry full loads on warm heat rather than hot.

#7 – Flip your ceiling fan

Instantly cool the air in your home by simply adjusting ceiling fan blades.  In summer, keep your fan’s blades counterclockwise to create a downdraft and cooling breeze.  In winter, keep the blades clockwise so that an updraft can push warmer air across the room.

#8 – Optimize refrigerator and freezer efficiency

Set refrigerator temperature between 36 and 38 degrees and freezer temperature at 5 degrees.  You may upgrading to newer ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators.

#9 – Power down to save

Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use and unplug any device, such as a TV, with a remote.  Remove device chargers from electrical outlets when not in use as they continue to use energy any time they’re plugged in.

Posted in General Info
April 13, 2021

Home Appraisal

Home Appraisal

What Is An Appraisal and Why Is It Important When Purchasing a Home?

An appraisal is an unbiased opinion used to confirm the value of a property. When you apply for a mortgage, the lender wants to know that it isn’t lending you more money than the home is worth.  So the lender hires an appraiser to help it make the decision whether or not to provide funds for a mortgage. 

An appraiser will take a look at the property, both inside and out.  The appraiser will look at how the home you want to purchase compares to other homes in the area of similar size, style, age and condition.  The appraiser will make adjustments to the subject property to make a close comparison, for instance, adding value for a garage or new roof or reducing value for a smaller yard or fewer bedrooms or bathrooms.  After making these adjustments the appraiser will report the findings to the lender.  It doesn’t matter how much you are willing to pay for the house, the bank will not lend more than the home’s market value.  Appraisals help keep home prices from going too crazy, although in this sellers’ market it may not seem that way!

Many buyers are waiving the appraisal (if their lender will allow that).  What happens if the appraisal value is lower than the price you’ve agreed to pay for a home?  There are a few options: the seller needs to lower the price to the appraised value; the buyer needs to pay the difference between appraised value and purchase price; the buyer and seller can agree to each pay a portion of the difference; or the buyer can walk away from the transaction - if the offer was made with an appraisal contingency. 

Don’t let your home buying dream turn into a nightmare! It is important to work with a knowledgeable Realtor and lender to be sure to structure your offer properly to avoid making a costly mistake that could turn into a legal battle, drain your savings, or both.

 

Posted in Homebuyer
April 1, 2021

Easy & Healthy Side Dish

Roasted Asparagus Salad - Recipe from the 80 Thoreau Restaurant in Concord, MA

Perfect for a holiday side dish or a summer gathering!

1 bunch standard asparagus, stems snapped off
1 lemon
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
4-6 ounces baby arugula
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 ounces Parmesan Reggiano
Salt and pepper

    • Set broiler to high.
    • Take the zest off the lemon with a microplane or other zester and then place in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and the Dijon mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste and whisk together thoroughly. Slowly drizzle in 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil while whisking to emulsify the dressing.
    • Reserve 2 stalks of asparagus and place the rest of the bunch on a sheet pan. Coat with the remaining 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook the asparagus under the broiler for 4 minutes.
    • While the asparagus is cooking, use a vegetable peeler to shave the reserved 2 stalks into thin ribbons. Put these in a bowl with the arugula and toss with the lemon dressing.
    •  When the asparagus has cooked, it should be starting to char in a few spots. Place it on a platter or individual salad plates. Top with the arugula salad and sprinkle with the capers.
    • Use a vegetable peeler to shave long thin strips of Parmesan over the top.

Makes 4 servings.

Posted in General Info
March 16, 2021

Make Your Home Seem Larger

Until you can head out with us to find your new bigger home, or if you’re preparing to sell, here are some ways you can make your home seem larger.

 

1. LET THERE BE LIGHT

Darker spaces feel smaller, and lighter spaces feel larger so consider using more lamps (with energy-efficient LEDs of course), paint your walls in light colors, replace dark rugs with lighter ones and maybe even install a skylight or two.  Remove those heavy, ornate old drapes and use light filtering blinds or shutters instead, or full length lightweight semi-sheer curtains that give the illusion of added height by drawing the eye upward.

2. FURNITURE

Smaller furniture will make a space not only easier to navigate, but also feel bigger.  That big sectional sofa you had in your last home may not fit the space you’re in now (maybe it didn’t fit your last space either, but you wanted it anyway).  Consider using just a couple of the sections to create a new and smaller configuration, or use a loveseat and one or two smaller scale chairs instead.  Pulling furniture a few inches away from walls will help create the illusion of spaciousness, too.

Seeing underneath furniture with exposed legs helps a room feel bigger because of the space (and light) between the floor and the furniture.  Choose furniture with exposed legs rather than legs that are covered up or furniture that sits directly on the ground (dressers, bed frames, cabinets, etc.).  Use a simpler headboard and skip the footboard, or use a low profile headboard and footboard.  This will help the bed to not dominate the room, and will give extra space for moving around it.

Dining room feeling a bit tight?  Remove a couple chairs and take any leaves out of the table.  A round table makes a room feel bigger, as it’s easier to walk around, and squared-off tables create a feeling of filling the room.

3. MIRROR, MIRROR, ON THE WALL

Not your grandmother’s fussy mirror on a stand, but a mirror on the wall.  It can give the feeling of more space because when you see its reflection, it shows another whole room and reflects light back into the room.  The larger the mirror, the more dramatic the effect.  But don’t use one that’s too large or it will overwhelm the room and look like it’s waiting to go into storage on a movie set!

4. STORAGE

Keep more things hidden away.  Do you really need to display all those shot glasses you collected 30 years ago?  To make your home feel larger, keep more things inside drawers, closets, in storage, wherever they won’t be just one more item taking up space.  The more things that you leave visible in your home — particularly smaller items like books, DVDs, knickknacks, cords, etc. — the more cluttered it will look and feel.

Posted in General Info
Feb. 16, 2021

Conserve Energy This Winter

Winter is here in full force – and winter weather means your heating system will be working harder to keep you warm.  Check out these simple ways to conserve energy around the home and make sure your heating system is operating efficiently.

Clean or replace furnace filters as recommended.  A dirty air filter makes a heating system work harder, which uses more energy.

Set your thermostat as low as comfortable in the winter.  Programmable thermostats are a big help, and if you invest in a smart thermostat like Nest or Ecobee you can turn your heat setting down even if you forget to do so before leaving the house thanks to their phone apps!  You may also qualify for a free thermostat, a rebate or a bill credit from your electric provider when using one of these thermostats.

LED lights are energy efficient and last longer than traditional bulbs. Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with energy efficient LED lights.

Clean air registers and baseboard heaters and make sure they are not blocked by furniture or drapes.  There’s no sense in keeping the back of your couch warm instead of the room!

Speaking of drapes, open drapes and shades on south-facing windows during the day to allow the sunlight to enter and close at night to reduce the cold coming in.

Seal air leaks to keep the heat in and the cold out. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows; seal air leaks around chimneys, plumbing, ducts or wiring around walls, floors, and ceilings.  This will also help keep rodents from sneaking into your house to keep warm.

Operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction, which pushes warm air down into the room.

Wash clothes with cold water. Ninety percent of the energy used by washing machines goes into heating the water, but most clothes don’t require hot water to get clean.

Following these tips will not only save energy, you’ll also save money!

 

Posted in General Info
Jan. 15, 2021

Take Care of Your Car This Winter

Take Care of Your Car This Winter!

Here are some tips for keeping your car in good shape and properly fitted out for the winter, so you will be prepared for both the weather and for emergencies!

In addition to putting some antifreeze in your car, be sure to keep your gas tank at least ¼ full to avoid a gas line freeze, be sure to keep an emergency supply kit ready, too, and not just for the winter.

Emergency kit items:

-        Jumper cables

-        First aid kit

-        Car charger for your cell phone

-        Properly inflated spare tire, a tire wrench and a tripod jack

-        Reflective triangles and a red, orange or yellow cloth to tie to your antenna, mirror or raised trunk to make your vehicle more visible when pulled off the road.  An extra bit of caution is to also pack a reflective vest in case you need to walk for help.

-        Flashlight - and don’t forget extra batteries!  There are also flashlights that work by winding, so you don’t have to worry about batteries

-        Snow brush, snow shovel, ice scraper

-        Windshield washer fluid

-        A blanket

-        High energy snack foods and a bottle of water

Posted in General Info
Jan. 6, 2021

Why Selling Your Home on Your Own is a Mistake

 

There are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times, like what we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert you trust to help guide you through the process. If you’re considering selling on your own, known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), it’s critical to consider the following items.

1. Your Safety Is a Priority

Your safety should always come first, and that’s more crucial than ever given the current health situation in our country. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings but your health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours, real estate professionals are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your potential buyers.

2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Recent studies from NAR have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 43% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumps to 97%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house.

3. There Are Too Many Negotiations

Here are just a few of the people you’ll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer's agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.

4. You Won’t Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it’s almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress being made toward a purchaser’s mortgage commitment. You need someone who’s working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

5. FSBOing Is Becoming More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process is growing dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners think they’ll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save on the commission.

study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:

"Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population.  And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool."


The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place, potentially driving the price higher, too.

Bottom Line

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction by yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, let’s connect to discuss your options.

 

Posted in Home Seller
Dec. 28, 2020

Choosing the Right Lightbulb

Lightbulb Guide

       

 

We all know that today’s newer types of bulbs use significantly less energy.  But did you know that more lumens equal brighter light?  Selecting the right lightbulb is all about where that bulb is going and what you want it to do – and it all comes down to bulb temperature.  Bulb temperature is measured on the Kelvin scale. 

Here’s a quick guide to what bulb to use where, keeping in mind that the brightness for some spaces is an individual preference, so there is some overlap.

 

SOFT WHITE

Warm and cozy atmosphere

TEMP: 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin

LOCATIONS:

Living room

Dining room

Bedrooms

WARM WHITE

Yellowish to white tones

TEMP: 3,000 to 4,000 Kelvin

LOCATIONS:

Kitchen

Bathroom

Living room

BRIGHT WHITE

White to bluish tones

TEMP: 4,000 to 5,000 Kelvin

LOCATIONS:

Kitchen

Bathroom

Work spaces

Home office

Garage

DAYLIGHT

Cool bluish tones

TEMP: 5,000 to 6,500 Kelvin

LOCATIONS:

Work spaces

Task lighting for reading

Vanity lights

 

The type of bulb you choose is also based on your preference.  All the bulbs below produce 800 lumens of light, so pick the one you feel is best based on cost, length of life, the look you prefer and where it will be used.

LED

12 Watts = 800 Lumens 

CFL

15 Watts = 800 Lumens

Halogen

43 Watts = 800 Lumens

Incandescent

60 Watts = 800 Lumens

 

So when you buy bulbs look for lumens not watts, as watts are no longer a reliable way to gauge the right level of brightness. 

 

Posted in General Info