Tuesday Tip – 10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing Listing Agents

October 28th, 2014

When choosing a real estate agent to help you sell your home, it’s important to find one with proven expertise in selling properties in your area for at or above market value.  A lot of factors contribute to an agent’s ability to get you top dollar for your home, and you want to make sure they’re aggressive, committed and savvy.  Here are ten important questions you should ask when interviewing listing agents (keep in mind that all agents you’re considering should come see your property before you decide to work with them):

-       How long have you been a licensed Realtor?

-       How long have you been working in this market?

-       How many homes have you sold in the last 6 months?

-       How many of these homes sold for list price?

-       Do you have any client testimonials?

-       Are there any improvements or repairs that you would recommend for my property?

-       What are the most marketable characteristics of the neighborhood where my home is located?

-       How are your marketing strategies different or more effective than other agents?

-       How, specifically, do you plan to market my home?

-       What particular features of my home do you think will be most appealing to buyers, and how do you plan to highlight them?

When shopping for a real estate agent, it’s definitely not a one size fits all scenario.  An agent who has great experience selling colonials in the suburbs might not be the best fit if you’re listing your condo in the city, so it’s perfectly appropriate, and necessary, to keep asking questions until you are confident you’ve found the right person for the job.

For more information on finding the best agent for the sale of your home, feel free to reach out to our experts at The Charles Realty at 617-236-0353.  Of course, we’d love to be considered as your listing agent, but we’ll also refer you to another agency if we think they have more experience selling your type of home.

Tuesday Tip – How to Make a Small Space Feel Larger

October 21st, 2014

Whether you’re buying or renting in Boston, affordable square footage can be a hard thing to come by, so it’s important to find ways to make the space that you do have feel more open.  Our friends at Trulia (www.trulia.com) created a list of 7 ways to make your small space look bigger.

Do you have our own great tips for making a space feel larger than it is?  Share it in the comments section below.

Tuesday Tip – Finding the Right Neighborhood in Boston

October 14th, 2014

Location, location, location – that’s the number one rule in real estate, but it’s especially true when buying a home in Boston.  The city of Boston is distinguished by its eclectic mix of vibrant and diverse neighborhoods. From Back Bay to Charlestown to The North End, each area is charming in its own right.  Components such as architecture, food, and resident population create a unique personality and appeal to all of the Boston villages.

As a buyer, it is critical to spend a good amount of time in each neighborhood, both during the day and at night, to get a feel for the atmosphere and personality of each.  For example, The South End has a very particular and dynamic vibe that you might not find anywhere else in the city.  Some claim the South End to be Boston’s version of Greenwich Village, with its incredible number of good restaurants, cafes, theaters, and shops.  For those looking for a more traditional feel, Back Bay is an appealing option with the gaslight lanterns lining Marlborough St and large brownstone homes along Comm Ave and Beacon.  The shopping on Newbury St is some of the most recognized in the country.  Venturing into The Fenway/Kenmore Square area, you will find plenty of activity.  With many colleges in the area, as well as Fenway Park, and a number of medical centers, these neighborhoods are experiencing a lot of growth.

Boston is home to an assortment of people, but pride in their city is a universal characteristic.  So while restaurants, local activities, and proximity to highways and public transportation are all important things to consider, make sure that the neighborhood you decide on is one that you will feel proud of calling home.  Afterall, the city will become your backyard, so you want to feel as comfortable outside your home as you do inside.  For more specific information on Boston’s neighborhoods, contact the experts at Charles Realty who live, work and play amongst them all, 617-236-0353.

Tuesday Tip: Preparing Your Home for Market

October 7th, 2014

In today’s real estate market, if you’ve got a nice home in a coveted area, it’s likely to sell quickly, but here are some tips for getting your home ready to fetch top dollar.

First things first, remove all personal items.  When you’ve created memories in a home, celebrated holidays there, and marked your children’s growth on the walls, sometimes you forget that prospective buyers won’t feel the same nostalgia that you do.  So while you might think your perfectly arranged shelves of framed pictures and memorabilia are creating a “homey” mood for the buyer, it’s important to remember that each visitor touring the property needs be able to visualize their own life fitting in to the space, not take a trip down your memory lane.  This is why it’s important to de-clutter and remove as many personal items as possible.  In the kitchen, remove all pictures from the refrigerator and all large appliances like toaster ovens and coffee makers that take up valuable counter space.  Your potential buyers might be animal lovers but they could also be allergic to pet dander, so it’s a good idea to remove dog beds, food bowls and any other signs of animals.  The same goes for high chairs and baby toys, which have a way of making a room feel very cluttered and small.

It’s a difficult first step to start removing yourself from a home that you’ve invested much of yourself in, but it will make a big difference to prospective buyers.  That being said, if removing pictures from a wall will leave it discolored and vacant looking, it’s better to leave them be.  The key here is identifying where your personal items add character to the home itself, and removing anything that might get in the way of the buyers imagination. Items left in a space should not be a distraction to the buyer.  They should leave remembering the abundance of counter space in the bathroom, not the line of skin care products you share in common.   If you have a hard time being objective about what should stay and what should go, contact a staging company or invite your realtor to assist you.  They are experts at creating spaces that are minimal yet inviting.  For more information on how to make sure your home sells for top dollar, call us at 617-236-0353.

Tuesday Tip – How To Distinguish Yourself in a Multiple Bid Situation

October 1st, 2014

There’s no question that Boston real estate belongs to a competitive market.   As a buyer, it can overwhelming when you show up to an open house that looks more like the mall during the holiday season.  It’s even more anxiety provoking when you realize that the home is exactly what you, and everybody else there, have been looking for.

Of course, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of coming out on top in a multiple bid situation.  The obvious recommendations, such as paying cash, waving financing contingencies, or increasing your initial bid are all great.  But these all require some monetary backing.  What if you don’t have that option?

What can you do to stand out to the sellers of your dream house?  Here’s a thought – many buyers will write a letter to the sellers and include it with their offer.  This in itself is a good idea, but not an original one.  Try submitting a letter to the seller several days before offers are reviewed, so they get to know you and have time to digest your words before the offer due date.  You know the saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” well it rings true in this instance.  A picture of yourself or your family accompanying the letter is likely to engage the seller further.  This way they will be looking for your offer the day they are due.  True, your offer might not be the highest, but the seller may feel more connected to you, even if they later receive other personalized letters with offers, because they have had some time to think about your cute family and the words you put to paper.

In the end, money talks the loudest, so if the seller gets an offer that far exceeds yours, Shakespearean sonnets won’t change their mind, but if they’re deciding between a couple of close offers, the personalized touch – and the extra time they have to think about you and your story – will definitely leave an impression and distinguish you from other buyers.

For a complete guideline to seller correspondence and more tips on becoming a distinguishable buyer give us a call at 617-236-0353

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.