Moving Tips for Labor Day

August 27th, 2014

It ́s almost here: Septmeber 1st, the big moving day in Boston! We have rented apartments for 30 years and know exactly what you should keep in mind when moving this coming Monday! We also know, that it can be a little overwhelming…

In order to make your move as smooth as possible, we put together the most important tips for you:

  1. By now, you have probably already reserved a truck for Monday. Do yourself a favor and call up the rental office to confirm the reservation. The last thing you want is the office messing up your reservation and not having a truck available when you need it.
  2. Have friends and family help you! Many hands make light work. The more people there are working together, the sooner you’ll be sitting on the couch with a glass of wine enjoying your new home! Don ́t forget to acknowledge their help though. Pizza and beer are the standard method of bribery, but if you hold out the prospect of something more valuable to them (like watching their kids/inviting them to the movies some time), they tend to work faster.
  3. Document any damage in the apartment you ́re moving out of! You have probably made a few scuffs and scratches here and there, but you don ́t want your security deposit docked because the next tenant puts a hole in the wall while moving in. They will be able to report any damage in the first 15 days of living in your old place and have it pinned on you. So, get your smart-phone out and take pictures or even a video of your old place before returning the keys to your landlord!
  4. If you usually park your car on the streets in Boston, move it on Sunday night. About 90% of the people who will be driving all those moving trucks on monday have never done it before. You won ́t believe how many smashed, scratched and dented cars you can see in the streets on September 2nd. Park your car in a parking lot or somewhere else off the streets just to be safe!
  5. Prepare for the weather! According to Google, there ́s a 20% chance of rain on Monday. This doesn ́t sounds too bad, but if it does rain, you’ll wish you prepared for it.

Keeping all those important tips in mind, you should be good to go! Monday will be a long day, but when you ́ve mastered the move, you will be more than happy! We wish you all the best for the first year in your new apartment and want to congratualte you on your new home!

Backyard Improvement Ideas

June 10th, 2014

Sunny days and nice weather are ahead of us this summer making it the ideal time to make backyard improvements. Creating the right features in a backyard make it the ideal close escape. Here are some ideas that will make any backyard pop:

Lighting- The right outdoor lighting helps with late night relaxing and prevents people from tripping or running into objects in the dark. Both electrical lighting and torch/lantern lighting will make a backyard more inviting.

Digital Vision/Thinkstock

Outdoor Fireplace/Firepit- Cheap and easy to make, fireplaces and pits are great places to gather with friends and loved ones. This project can be as easy as digging a pit and filling it with some stones to hiring a contractor to make a big project out of this. Fireplaces and pits are good gathering spots to roast some marshmallows with the kids or have some drinks with friends.

iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Create Your Own Beach- With enough sand you can create your very own beach in your backyard.

sunset.com

Sources:
Top 10 Ideas for Outdoor Living Spaces
25 Ways to Create an Outdoor Oasis

Reducing Summer Utility Bills

June 2nd, 2014

The summer months are the best time to save money on utility bills and make up for the long months of winter this year. Here are some ways to reduces energy use to keep those utility bills low during the summer:

1)      Unplug Devices – Unplug unused chargers and cords because they still eat up energy even when out of use.
2)      Use Windows and Fans – Save A/C costs by using ceiling fans and breezes from outside.
3)      Close Doors to Trap Cool Air – Dedicate one or two rooms as A/C rooms and close the doors to hold in the cool air.
4)      Turn Off Lights – Use natural daylight during the day to save electricity costs.
5)      Turn The Thermostat Off – When you’re not home turn off the thermostat to avoid heating/cooling the house when no one is home.
6)      Hang Laundry Outside – If you have the space, try hanging laundry outside to save the costs of going to a Laundromat or high energy bills.
7)      Stay On Lower Levels – Heat rises so stay on the first floor or basement where the house will be coolest.
8)      Grow Trees Surrounding Your Home – The Trees will provide shade and cool your home.

Sources:
10 Ways to Reduce Your Summer Utility Bills
10 Ways to Reduce Your Summer Utility Bills
20 ways to REALLY reduce your summer utility bills

Updates to 34 Plympton Street

May 28th, 2014

A Modern Renovation in the Trendy South End

Unit 1 Updates: Will now be converted into a 3 bed/2 bath for $799,000.

Unit 2 Updates: Price reduced to $849,000.

Unit 3 Updates: Price is still $899,000, but will include a private roof deck to be built by seller.

All 3 Units: Seller will include 1 years parking in area garage.

These spacious loft style homes embody the flawless balance between state of the art amenities and modern designelements.  The open kitchen boasts recent renovations such as: stainless steel appliances, granite counters, plenty of cabinet space, dishwasher/disposal, and refrigerator.

These residences boasts modern features such as hardwood floors throughout the units, and tranquil bathrooms complete with rain shower heads, tiled walls with inlays, Toto water saving toilets, and Kohler tubs.

Residency at 34 Plympton offers luxuries including: a security system, air conditioning, private designated storage, walking distance to the restaurants on Harrison Avenue and Washington Street, and easy access to 93 and the Mass Pike.

If you would like to see any of the three condos in person, feel free to contact one of our expert agents by scheduling a showing here. Also be sure to go to 34plymptonboston.com for more images and information.

Boston’s Best Parks for Lunch Breaks

May 22nd, 2014

Now that the weather is becoming more seasonable, it is the perfect time to get outside and explore Boston’s finest parks. With over 2,600 acres of park land throughout the city, Boston offers a wide range of parks. Here are some to check out.

Public Garden (Beacon Hill/Back Bay)

photo via beaconhilllivingsir.com

One of Boston’s most notable parks is one of America’s first public botanical gardens. With a Victorian era feel, there are memorials, sculptures, and the famous George Washington statue. Flowers and trees throughout this area beautifies the park even more and during the warmer months swan boat rides are offered to give a close up view of the lagoon.

Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park (Waterfront)

photo via tripadvisor.com

One of the best places to enjoy a picnic while watching boats in Boston Harbor, Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park also features the Memorial Rose Garden trellis. This park is perfect for people of all ages and is located near the Aquarium and North End.

Norman B. Leventhal Park at Post Office Square (Downtown)

photo via normanbleventhalpark.org

With 1.7 acres of land between buildings in Downtown Boston, this park is a hot spot for people working in the area. With a sculptural fountain and a long trellis, there is plenty of scenery in an unexpected spot. Lawn cushions are provided for seating on the lawn during the day, and live music is provided variously. This park will make you forget that you’re in the middle of the city with its beauty.

Cassidy Playground/Chestnut Hill Reservation (Brighton)

photo via properwise.com

Boasting both recreation and beauty, this park is adjacent to the reservoir and its 1.6 mile path perfect for walks, runs, and dogs. The park also has one baseball field, two softball fields, and two tennis courts among the large grass covered park.

Piers Park (East Boston)

photos via eastietimes.com

Over in East Boston, where fewer businesses are located is the 6.5 acre Piers Park. This park features a playground, mini amphitheater, and a 600 foot pedestrian promenade with views of downtown Boston. Although no ball throwing is allowed, this is one of the best picnic spots in Boston.

Commentary: ‘The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America’

May 15th, 2014

photo via. harvard.edu

Recently Keeping Current Matters reemerged a paper on homeownership by Managing Director of the Joint Center of Housing Studies at Harvard University, Eric Belsky. The paper entitled ‘The Dream Lives On: the Future of Homeownership in America,’ five financial reasons as to why people should consider owning a house were presented. Here are the five reasons and our break down as to why the five reasons are accurate:

1)      Housing is typically the one leveraged investment available.
With fewer lenders willing to lend out money and fewer people interested in borrowing money to buy stock and bonds, homeownership becomes the one leveraged investment available. As home values increase so does the home’s return on equity, and right now home values are increasing.

2)      You’re paying for housing whether you own or rent.
When paying for rent payments go towards the landlord’s principle, while homeowners pay debt service to pay down their own principle. In other words, there is a return on investment when owning a home, while there isn’t when renting. Landlords are the ones making an investment in rentals.

3)      Owning is usually a form of “forced savings.”
Whether you realize it or not, owning a home is a way money. This is very beneficial to people that have trouble saving money. The study states that people have to make a housing payment no matter what, and owning a home can help people overcome deferring saving to another day.

4)      There are substantial tax benefits to owning.
Homeowners can deduct mortgage interest and property taxes from income, and capital gains are excluded from income if homes are sold for a gain.

5)      Owning is a hedge against inflation.
Housing and rental costs are bound to increase to a level higher than the rate of inflation. There have been numerous periods where the housing and rental costs have gone at or higher than the rate of inflation, therefore owning is a home is becoming a bigger advantage nowadays.

For more reasons to own a home or inquires on buying a home, please visit our website or get in contact with us. Also be sure to follow us on our social media handles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Boston’s Off-Campus Apartment Market

May 12th, 2014

Recent news stories have brought the off-campus apartment market into the limelight, highlighting that over recent years students have been exposed to the dangers caused by the housing shortage. With universities in Boston accepting more and more students every year, housing both on and off campus cannot keep up.

As a result of less off-campus housing inventory, college students have begun to make sacrifices. Students are now living in small, cheap, and run-down apartments to save money as financial pressures continue to grow on students. Bedbugs, rodents, and additional hazards have become more common news stories due to the state of some off-campus apartments.

With high demand and low inventory, landlords no longer have to compete to find customers and don’t feel the same pressures to update their properties. In an editorial by the Boston Globe titled ‘Student Apartments Expose Ravages of Housing Shortages,’ it was said “As housing units come up for sale, deep-pocketed landlords whose business models involve skimping on maintenance, and packing in tenants beyond what the law allows, can easily outbid individual families or more conscientious investors.” Over the last few months it has becoming increasingly difficult to go without seeing a story in the news about an apartment fire, hazardous apartment conditions, and overcrowding because of what’s going on in the off-campus apartment market.

So, what is needed when moving forward?

-          City inspectors will need to step up more than before. More visits are needed to apartments and tickets will be given for safety code violations.

-          Universities should help guide students and their families in the direction of safe off-campus housing. Some universities already do a good job at this.

-          More housing. This won’t happen overnight, but more housing is needed in Boston to keep up with the demand.

-          Use a rental agent. The Charles Realty’s rental agents went to schools in the Boston area and know the off-campus apartment market. They can guide students to the right landlord and safe housing.

Sources:
Student apartments expose ravages of housing shortage
A House Jammed with Students, a Life of Promise Lost
Overcrowded and at Risk: A Way of Life and, Sometimes, Death for Student Tenants
A Devastating Mismatch: City vs. Scofflaw Landlords

What to Know When Moving to an Apartment

May 6th, 2014

Costs

- What’s your monthly budget?
- What utilities are/aren’t included?
- What’s the security deposit?
- Does the landlord need first month’s rent/last month’s rent?
- Is there a penalty for terminating the lease early?

General

- How long is the lease?
- Make a good impression with the landlord.
- Avoid the cheapest place available. There will likely be future problems with the place.
- How easy is it to get to work/school.

Neighborhood

- Is there a lot of outside noise?
- When’s trash day?
- Where’s the nearest market, pharmacy, etc.?
- What’s the parking situation?
- Nearby T/bus stops?

Maintenance

- Inspect the apartment before signing a contract.
- Take photos of the apartment before moving in and save them until the move out date.
- Figure out maintenance responsibilities between the landlord and the renter.
- What tools/supplies might be needed?

How to Make Your Home More Green

May 1st, 2014

photo via realtor.com

Global warming and the damages we are making on our environment have been a major concern the last few decades. These concerns have resulted in the creation of energy efficient appliances and products to help save energy costs and our environment. Along with the costs that can be saved when making a home energy efficient, people can now take advantage of tax incentives. Through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, federal tax incentives are now available. Updating a home with window insulation and heating/air-conditioning upgrades can all be classified as tax incentives. Here are some ways to make your home more green:

-          Watch the house temperature
-          Replace the water heater tank with a tankless one
-          Check house insulation
-          Energy-efficient appliances
-          Energy-efficient windows
-          Low-flow plumbing fixtures
-          Replace light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs
-          Unplug unused electric appliances (Electronics can consume almost as much energy when in standby mode)
-          Use 100% post-consumer recycled paper for toilet paper, paper towels, etc.
-          Install bamboo floors rather than hardwood.
-          Use zero or low-VOC paint
-          Use compost rather than synthetic fertilizers for your garden

For more ways to make your home more green or any questions, please get in touch with us by commenting on our Facebook!

Sources:
The 10 easiest ways to green your home
Top 10 Ways to Make Your New Home Green
25 Ways to Create a Green and Healthy Home
9 Ways to Make Your Home More Energy Efficient

What to Look for in a Neighborhood

April 28th, 2014

Buying a home requires a thorough evaluation of the house itself, and the surrounding environment. The surrounding environment, or neighborhood is a major part of the investment made when buying a home. Buying a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood is one of the best investments one can make. Investing in an area that is on the rise rather than an area that is already thriving will give a bigger return on investment.

When searching for a home there are many variables to take into account when looking into the neighborhood from the school systems to the crime rate. Here are some things to look for when research a neighborhood:

  • Taxes and location based expenses: People often forget about expenses separate from the price of buying the home. Be sure to check the property taxes, any association fees, and any other expenses that may arise.
  • Area rules and laws: Every association and town has different rules and laws that should be brushed up on.
  • Crime rate: There are numerous websites allowing people to view crime rate statistics in a zip code. Look up the crime rate of the areas you currently live in compared to the places you are looking to move and see how they stack up.
  • Schools: School systems are a crucial element in the home buying process. See if the area has preschool to high school public and/or private schools. Schools aren’t only important for families, having a good school system will help with the resale of the house.
  • Amenities: Amenities including, shopping centers, grocery stores, and so on might be areas you need to travel to often, so how far do you want to travel to get to these places?
  • Commute: How long will it take to travel to work? How long will it take to travel to see relatives? Use an online mapping website to see how long the commute will be to the places you need to travel to regularly.
  • Sights, sounds, and smells: When at the house see how loud the environment is. Is there traffic? Does it get louder at night? Also study what sights you’ll have from each area of the house. Lastly check the smell of the area, does a local store have scents that travel to the house?

Remember even if some of these variables don’t impact you, always think about the future. Someday you’ll sell your house and things such as, the amenities and school system may be more important to someone looking to buy the house from you. Overall remember a house is an investment, so do research and plan for the future.

For any questions or comments, please comment on our Facebook.

Sources:
Top 10 Things to Look for to Find Your Dream Neighborhood
5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Neighborhood
How to Choose a Neighborhood