Tuesday Tip – How to Cool Off Without Air Conditioning

August 25th, 2015

Summer is starting to wind down, but that doesn’t mean all of the sweltering days are behind us for the year.  Today’s Tuesday Tip offers 10 Hacks for Living Without AC, and it comes to us from AOL Real Estate.  Summer in the city can be tough without the reprieve of air conditioning, but hopefully these tips will help you stay cool!

For more tips on city living, and for general real estate information, feel free to reach out to our experts at 617-236-0353 or through our website at www.thecharlesrealty.com.

Tuesday Tip – How to Organize Your Garage to Add Value to Your Home

August 18th, 2015

Today’s Tuesday Tip features guest blogger, Stephanie Hanson, from Garage Storage Pros of MASS, who shares insight into how to best organize your garage if you’re looking to add value to your home.  Here’s what she has to say:

“When you hear the words, “Add value to your home,” what do you think of? Maybe your mind wanders toward finishing a basement, replacing carpet for hardwood, or even adding landscaping. A lesser-known way to add value to your home is through having an organized garage.

It’s true! Having a system in place for garage organization can make your home more desirable, and worth more. It could mean that someone is willing to pay the extra $5,000 you are asking for your home. In fact, Freshome named it one of the fifteen best ways to increase the value of your home. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get started.

First, you’re going to want to clear out the clutter in your garage. That means getting rid of the stuff you don’t need or use anymore. Some people find this step overwhelming. If that’s you, consider hiring a professional garage organizer to help streamline the process. If you’re someone who feels bad about getting rid of perfectly good items that you just don’t seem to use anymore, just donate! Many people will appreciate putting your item to good use.

Next, it’s time for planning. Once every item is out of your garage, and you’ve discarded any unused items, you can decide on a garage layout that would be most beneficial. If you’re planning on living in the home for a few more years, ask yourself what purposes your garage serves. Is it a catch-all? A workshop? A long-term storage facility, or a place you park your car? All these questions will tell you what types of materials you’ll want to organize your garage with.

Most people consider cabinets and shelving, equal. That’s not the case! Each piece of storage equipment is designed to solve a specific storage problem. Shelving is great for frequently used items, because they can be accessed quickly. Cabinets are great for items that are hazardous, or unsafe or children, because they aren’t as easy to access. Overhead storage is ideal for long-term storage items because it keeps them up, and out of the way.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home and are just looking to add the most bang for your buck, go for cabinets and flooring to add a sleek, professional look to your garage. Epoxy floor coatings are great because they can hide dirt, cracks, and stains on your concrete. Premium cabinets that match your epoxy flooring will tie the room together give you tons of storage space.

If you’re in the market to sell, or just want to make your home a little nicer, consider how updating your garage will help.”

Garage Storage Pros of MASS is a garage storage and organization company for homeowners in the Cambridge area. Visit their website here, for more information.

Tuesday Tip – Preparing for a September 1st Move In

August 11th, 2015

Awhile back, we wrote a post outlining 5 Things to Consider when Shopping for a Rental.  Since the heavy rental season is upon us – and September 1st, the biggest rental move in date of the year is quickly approaching, we thought the timing would be perfect for another post about rentals – specifically a checklist for your September 1st move in (keep in mind that September 1st is a Tuesday this year, so the weekend leading up to that will be busy as well).  Of course there’s the obvious: pack, call about utilities, etc., but there are some other tasks that should definitely be checked off the list sooner rather than later.  Here they are, in order of time sensitivity:

-Secure a U-Haul: There are more than 36,000 students at Boston-based colleges and universities who are renting apartments in Boston neighborhoods.  This number alone makes for a serious crowd of Sept. 1st movers, but throw in the additional renters in and around the city and you’ve got a number that’s staggering.  If you need help moving, be it a truck or a moving service, book it now!  Call your local U-Haul, bribe your friends, whatever it takes to make sure you’re not alone, strapping a mattress to the top of your Smart Car on 9/1.  If all the U-Hauls in the city are already taken, look for one outside the city in the suburbs.  Also, check to see if you’ll need a parking permit for the moving truck, or if the moving company you’re using will secure parking signs from the city.

-Elevator / Loading dock reservations: Will you need access to your new building’s elevator or loading dock on 9/1?  Chances are, other people will to0, so make sure that you reserve your time if required by the building.

-Parking permit:  Will you need a residential sticker in order to park in your new neighborbood?  Better to get it taken care of now so you don’t have to deal with a parking ticket on top of all the other stresses that come along with moving day.  Visit http://www.cityofboston.gov/parking/residentparking/ for more information about applying for a residential parking pass.

-Doors and window measurements: Don’t want to saw the legs off your new dining room table?  Better measure the doors and take a look at stairwells to make sure all of your furniture will fit.  In particularly tight situations, some folks will even use cranes to get furniture through windows, so if you’ll need a crane, it’s better to know that sooner rather than later.  Also, don’t forget to measure windows – blinds and window treatments will offer much needed privacy while living in the city.

-Hire cleaners: Your new place should be relatively clean when you move in, but the previous tenant might not have the same standards for cleanliness so it’s always a good idea to hire a cleaner to make your new home feel fresh and inviting.  If possible, book them for early in the morning so they can be in and out before you start your move.

-Key collection: Check with your rental agent for key collection.  When you pick them up, make sure your unit keys also include your mailbox keys.

-Check to see if your building management company charges a move in or move out fee.

-Trash/Recycling schedules: Moving generates a lot of trash, so it’s definitely good to know which days of the week your trash and recycling are picked up.  Here’s a link to the trash schedule, http://www.cityofboston.gov/publicworks/wastereduction/collection.asp.

And since September 1st always seems to be one of the hottest days of the Summer, make sure you have plenty of refreshments for you and your friends!

Fore more tips on preparing for moving day, and for general information about renting in Boston, contact our experts at http://www.thecharlesrealty.com.

Tuesday Tip – How to Choose Amongst Multiple Offers

July 28th, 2015

In many of Boston’s most popular neighborhoods, sellers can expect to receive multiple offers for their home, especially if it’s priced right, includes certain amenities (like a parking spot!) and is staged to sell.  But when the offers come in, the highest bid is not always the smartest choice.  It’s important to take a close look at the buyers who are making the offers, and then to evaluate based on both the tangibles and the intangibles.

First, there are the hard factors: are they pre-approved for the amount offered, are they offering cash, are they willing to forego the finance contingency and / or inspection?  If the answers to all of these questions are yes, then on paper, you’ve got a all-star buyer who should certainly be a top contender for the property.  But you should also consider some other, “softer” factors.  For example, are they working with an agent, and is it someone that your agent knows, respects and has had positive interactions with in the past?  This is important because you want to be sure that your buyers and their agent are ethically sound and committed to the purchase.  Agents live and die by their reputation, so a good one will not work with a buyer if they question their integrity or their word.  It is also nice when an offer comes from a buyer who has been on the market for some time, and has seen your home multiple times (though this is less common in today’s market where listed properties are receiving offers within a day or two of going on the market).  The point is, buyers who’ve put a lot of thought into their offer are less likely to pull out if something else comes along.  Bonus points for buyers who write a personal letter – these are the folks who are looking for a long-term home to settle into and take care of.

If you are in a position where you receive multiple offers, there’s some strategizing and work that needs to be done on your end – this is where you benefit from having a smart, experienced sales agent.  For example, in a multiple offer scenario, your agent should be communicating with each buyers agent to let them know they have multiple offers, and to leverage certain terms – like a quick closing or removal of contingencies – to improve on each offer.  Ideally, you’ll get your buyer with the highest offer to agree to the best terms from each of the other offers.  Also, a good agent will do everything they can to ensure the deal doesn’t fall through, but that if it does you have a back-up offer to quickly move on to.  If your agent is unable to get this commitment in writing, then they should maintain regular communication with the back up buyer or their agent until closing, or until the first buyer has removed all of their contingencies.

Every seller wants to receive multiple offers on their home so they can count on a timely and lucrative closing.  But to really minimize risk and ensure that the process is hassle-free, make sure that you’re accepting the best offer from the best buyer.  A good agent has seen a broad range of buyers and offer terms, and will help you identify the best buyer for your home.  For more information about evaluating multiple offers, or for general selling tips, feel free to connect with our experts at 617-236-0353 or through our website at www.thecharlesrealty.com.

Tuesday Tip – Where to Invest $10,000 if You’re Remodeling

July 21st, 2015

Very few purchased homes have everything you want as a buyer, so its good for your wallet, and your own sense of comfort and accomplishment to make some improvements that will be valuable, both to you and to future buyers.  Now, everyone knows that home improvement projects always cost more than you think they’re going to (and take longer!), so it’s helpful to have a benchmark for how much your money will get you so you know how to prioritize if, like most of us, you have a finite amount to work with. Today’s Tuesday Tip comes to us from AOL Real Estate and offers some advice for “Where to Spend $10,000 if You’re Remodeling.”  It offers helpful insight into investments that will yield the greatest return, both for those who are looking to stay in their home long term, and for those who are looking to sell.

Home improvements are an important part of home ownership, both for resale value and for personal enjoyment.  For more real estate and home ownership tips, or If you’re thinking of  beginning a project but want to know how it might impact the sale of your home, feel free to reach out to our experts at The Charles Realty, through our website or by calling 617-236-0353.

Tuesday Tip – Adding Big Curb Appeal on a Small Budget

July 7th, 2015

We all know how important first impressions are, so it’s no surprise that curb appeal has been proven to have an impact on the time it takes to sell a home.  Today’s tuesday tip comes from AOL Real Estate, and offers some simple and cost effective suggestions for adding big time curb appeal to your home.

For more ideas about how to ensure your home is making a good first impression with buyers, contact our experts at 617-236-0353 or through our website at www.thecharlesrealty.com.

Tuesday Tip – How To Be Sure You Don’t Miss Out On Your Dream Home

June 30th, 2015

There’s nothing more upsetting in the home buying process then missing out on your dream home.  Unfortunately many buyers in Boston have been experiencing this disappointment lately, with most homes getting multiple offers and many of them being over the asking price.  If you don’t want to be one of them, there are a few, somewhat extreme, things you can do to make sure you end up in the home you want, even if the seller has already selected another buyer.  Today’s Tuesday Tip comes to us from Zillow, and outlines “3 Extreme Home-Buying Tactics to Get the House you Want.”

For more tips on how to come out on top in Boston’s competitive real estate market, reach out to our experts at 617-236-0353 or www.thecharlesrealty.com.

Tuesday Tip – How to Remove Popcorn Texture from Ceilings

June 23rd, 2015

In the 1950’s, popcorn ceiling texture was all the rage.  Builders liked it because it could hide imperfections, it was easier than painting the ceiling as it was simply sprayed on, and it often reduced noise due to the increased surface area.  In the 1980’s when The Clean Air Act banned Asbestos, many builders stopped using popcorn texture for ceilings, but it remains a thorn in the side for most owners of homes built between 1950-1980, who find it unappealing and difficult to clean, paint and repair.  Luckily, it’s fairly simple to remove.  The first, and most important step, is to have the texture tested for Asbestos.  If the texture was applied after 1977, it’s likely Asbestos free, but if it was applied before then it’s quite possible that it contains the deadly mineral.  If you find that it does, hire a professional to remove it immediately.

After you’ve determined that it’s safe to remove the texture yourself, start by spraying the ceiling with regular tap water using a spray bottle.  Allow it to soak for several minutes, then use a paint scraper to remove the popcorn texture.  Make sure you have something beneath the area you’re working on to catch the falling texture – a plastic paint tray works well.  Don’t forget to wear safety goggles and a breathing mask, as particles can fall into your eyes and mouth.  It can be tiresome due to the angle you’re working at and the frequent need to move your ladder to a new section, but if you lay awake at night staring at the ceiling, wishing it was smooth and texture free, it’s definitely worth it!

For more home improvement and real estate tips, contact our team of experts at 617-236-0353 or through our website at www.thecharlesrealty.com.

Tuesday Tip – Questions to Ask When Interviewing Buyer’s Agents

May 26th, 2015

Awhile back, we wrote this blog post about questions you should ask when interviewing potential listing agents, but we think it’s important to have a list of questions for potential buyer’s agents as well, especially in this competitive market where it’s sometimes necessary for buyers and their agents to get creative with their negotiation tactics.

By nature, a buyer’s agent is more reactive to what they see on the market, so it’s not as important to focus on their marketing strategies (although this is always good to know as you will hopefully come to trust your broker and want to use them as a listing agent in the future). What is important, is that you feel confident that your broker is knowledgeable about the market in which your looking, that they’re committed to working hard for you, and that they will be able to advocate for you and always look out for your best interests.  You’re likely to get a good sense for these things just by having a conversation with the agent, where they’ll quickly showcase their level of enthusiasm and knowledge of the market, but here are a few questions that you should ask to get a well rounded picture of their skills and experience:

- How long have you been a licensed realtor?

-Have you represented other buyers in the locations that I’m looking?

-Do you have any client testimonials?

-Do you have preferred vendors that you trust and frequently work with for things like obtaining a mortgage, inspections, repairs, etc.?

-What are your fees and how do you get paid?

-How do you communicate with your clients about properties and other information (email, phone, text, frequency, etc.)?

-Will I be working with any other members of your team?

Personality is another huge factor when it comes to finding the right buyer’s agent, but there really aren’t any set questions that will help you determine whether or not you will “click” with an agent.  Nonetheless, don’t underestimate the importance of compatibility!  Just be honest about your expectations and make sure that your agent has the ability and the desire to meet them.

To learn more about our agents and to see if one of them might be right for you, feel free to reach out at 617-236-0353 or through our website at www.thecharlesrealty.com.

Tuesday Tip – Avoiding Common Mistakes First-Time Homebuyers Often Make

May 12th, 2015

Buying your first home can be overwhelming, you just don’t know what you don’t know, and mistakes can be costly.  Hopefully, you have a good agent to guide you through the process, explain your options, and serve as an advocate for your best interests.  But to get you started with your own due diligence, here’s a list of 6 First-time Homebuyer Mistakes, and How to Avoid Them, brought to us from our friends at Inman.

For a complete guide to the home buying process, contact our experts at www.thecharlesrealty.com, or 617-236-0353.