Tuesday Tip – Picture Perfect! How to Make Sure your Home Makes a Great First Impression

January 20th, 2015

This week’s Tuesday Tip is inspired by Curbed Boston’sListing Photo Fails” section.  Take a look at this week’s photos and join us as we ask a collective “what the …?”

Your home might have a stellar layout and be riddled with personality, but unless its photographed at its best and marketed in an effective and unique way – it’s likely potential buyers won’t even consider a showing.  To start, sellers must do their part to remove any items a potential buyer might not want to see in a photo – animals (and any toys, beds and food bowls that go with those animals), laundry, kitschy decorative items (your leg lamp replica from A Christmas Story might be a huge hit with your friends, but not all buyers will share their appreciation), bills and paperwork, personal pictures and magnets on refrigerators.  Also be sure to put the toilet seats down, close shower doors or curtains and fold towels and blankets.  Anything that will distract the viewer from what you want them to be looking at – spacious rooms, good lighting, interesting architecture – should be removed.

If you’ve already selected a seller’s agent, ask them for examples of other property descriptions they’ve written.  If you’re evaluating several different agents, make this a factor in your decision making process.  Keep in mind that buyers are more savvy than they used to be, and can see through disingenuous descriptions that use words like charming or cozy when what they really mean is small.  Also, with the prevalence of sites like Zillow, Trulia and Redfin, buyers have likely read many other property descriptions by the time they get to yours, so you want to make sure your agent finds words that make the description of your home stand out among the rest.  Some agents go above and beyond, and will invest in additional tools to market your property, so be sure to ask them about their marketing strategy.

Most agents have a photographer that they use for all of their listing photos.  Ask to see examples of their work, and if you don’t think they’ve captured the property at it’s best, don’t be afraid to ask for a different photographer, or to find one on your own.  Marketing a set of bad listing photos is like wearing pajamas to a job interview, but it’s a mistake that too many agents make, so be an active participant in the process to ensure your home is making it’s best first impression.

For more information about how to make sure your listing photos and description generate excitement and intrigue among potential buyers, contact our experts at The Charles Realty, who work with a team of seasoned photographers and marketers to make sure that buyers are captivated by your home before they’ve even seen it in person!  617-236-0353.

Tuesday Tip – New Year, New Home? If You’re Buying a Home in 2015, Now’s the Time to Start Preparing.

December 16th, 2014

Buying a home can be an enjoyable, minimally stressful experience, but if you don’t have the right team in place and haven’t prepared for the process, it can be quite the opposite.  Today’s Tuesday Tip comes to us from the folks at Zillow (www.zillow.com), who’ve put together a preparation guide for those who hope to buy a home in 2015.  For more information on how to prepare for the home buying process, feel free to contact our experts at The Charles Realty who will walk you through each step so you know exactly what to expect, 617-236-0353.

Tuesday Tip – New Décor for a New Year!

December 9th, 2014

Welcoming a New Year tends to inspire people to make changes and jazz things up a bit.  It’s the perfect time of year to create a new feel for a particular room in your home, or add the accents that have made it feel incomplete (and as a huge bonus, you’ll get great deals on post-holiday sales).   Here are a couple thoughts for how to find inspiration and focus for designing the perfect space.

If you already have a subscription to magazines like House Beautiful or Home & Design Magazine, then you likely already use them for inspiration.  If not, now is a great time to start.  Rip out the pages, circle what you like on them and organize them into categories – kitchen, reds, beach, cottage, etc.  This will help you identify the themes, styles and colors that you’re consistently drawn to.

As with everything these days, technology offers a seemingly unlimited number of resources, so while magazines are a great place to start, they don’t allow you to refine your search or dig in deeper when you see something you like.  Check out apps like Houzz.com and pinterest.com and blogs like remodelista.com for inspiration and clever ideas.

Once you’ve gotten a feel for the looks like excite you, find a piece you LOVE to anchor the room. Oftentimes a piece of art or furniture will make the best anchors, but get creative and don’t be afraid of color.  The more colors your anchor has, the easier it will be to find things that match it.  Just make sure it effectively establishes the vibe that you want for your room.

Don’t feel like in order to create a room that matches you can only shop at one or two similar stores.  That will make your project for more expensive – and more boring.  There’s nothing wrong with shopping at Pottery Barn, but do some research and see if you can sprinkle in some good finds from a local thrift shop, or a store that specializes in international décor (bonus points if you find something great while traveling).   Sure, this approach will take more time and effort, but it also guarantees a more eclectic and unique look, plus it makes for better conversation when showing off your new space to friends!

And perhaps most important, be patient.  Oftentimes the best-decorated rooms sat unfinished for some time.  Inevitably you’ll be eager to complete your project, but being impatient will leave you making hasty decisions and spending money on pieces you’re not completely in love with.  Your best rooms will be a reflection of your personality, so make sure you’re completely invested in everything you put into it!

Tuesday Tip – Finding a Christmas Tree in Boston

December 2nd, 2014

If you live in the city, chances are it’s going to be tough for you to venture out into the wilderness to Paul Bunyan yourself a Christmas tree.  It’s a romantic idea, but impractical for most.  Today’s Tip offers 10 Places to Buy a Christmas Tree in the City, and comes to us from the folks at Bostinno.

And, if you suddenly get the urge to throw on a flannel shirt and carry your ax out into the woods, they also have a related post that lists some great local farms that allow you to cut your own tree.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday Tip – 5 Ways to Entertain with Ease During the Holidays

November 25th, 2014

So you just closed on your new house and can’t wait to host the holiday celebrations, what a great way to show off your new digs!  But when you’re running around the morning of your get together trying to find a gift for the unexpected, last minute guest your sister is bringing while trying to rework the menu to accommodate for the Gluten allergy you forgot about, your inner scrooge is likely to emerge.  Here are 5 tips to help you get through the chaos of entertaining during the holidays.

- It’s like the song says, make a list and check it twice.  If you wake up in the middle of the night with a genius gift idea for your hard to shop for Uncle, write it down.  If you’re on the treadmill and you think of an obscure ingredient that you CAN NOT forget at the store, write it down.  Keep a note pad with you so you can keep all of your thoughts and plans together in one spot, and at the end of the day organize them into topics or columns.  Once a thought is on paper, let it go and use that vacated real estate in your brain for more important thoughts.

- Once you’ve made your menu, it’s a good idea to identify and pull out the dishes that you’ll be serving them on.  That way when the oven timer goes off and your famous dish starts to burn, you’re not digging through cupboards trying to find the one platter that is buried beneath every other dish you own.

-Create a natural, and simple table scape using fresh holly, produce or other easy to find, inexpensive items.  You can find inspiration and easy to follow directions on sites like Pinterest.  Name cards are also a good idea, as it prevents confusion and stammering when it’s time to sit down.

-Make your out of town guests feel welcome with a small greeting kit containing everything they might need during their stay, plus a few extras like local treats, brochures for local tours, or a book on the history of your town.  This will go a long way with making your guests feel comfortable and at home, and it will also make them more self-sufficient during their stay.

-The last one is most important – delegate!  When someone asks what they can do to help, give them a task, it makes them feel good to contribute and it frees up your time for other things.  Make a list of simple tasks that don’t require your direct attention, and don’t be afraid to assign chores, like dish duty, to the relatives you’re closest to you.

We hope this helps make your holiday hosting a little merrier!

Tuesday Tip – 10 Ways to Warm up Your Home this Winter

November 18th, 2014

When the cold weather sets in and you spend the majority of your day with a chill in your bones, there’s nothing more appealing than a warm, comfortable home after a frigid walk from the T.  So begins the battle between the thermostat and the bank account.  Today’s tip for how to Warm Up Your Home This Winter (Without Turning Up The Heat) comes to us from the folks at Yahoo DIY (www.yahoo.com/diy).  They’ve come up with 10 simple, yet somewhat unconventional ways to keep your heating bill low and your body temperature high.  For more thoughts on how to winterize your home and save money on utility bills, contact our experts at The Charles Realty, 617-236-0353.

Tuesday Tip – Five Important Things to Consider when Shopping for a Rental

November 11th, 2014

If you don’t have a rental horror story you’re one of the lucky ones.  Just about everyone has experienced a landlord’s unfilled promises of repairs, neighbors that play loud music until 4am, or that peculiar smell that comes out of the heating vent.  So when you’re shopping for a rental, what are some of the important things to look out for?  Our experts have put together a quick list to make sure your dream rental doesn’t turn into a nightmare.

1. Be hyper-vigilant in your walk through.  Sometimes it’s easy to get swept up in granite counter tops, back patios and bay windows, but don’t forget about the little things like water pressure, plumbing and fixtures.  When temperatures fall below freezing in December, you’re going to want to make sure the heat works well and there is plenty of hot water.

2. Ask about the neighborhood guidelines, including parking rules, snow removal and trash schedules.  Many places in and around Boston have street cleaning, snow removal and other city ordnances that may affect you, so it’s important to find out about schedules, protocols for weather situations, etc., particularly if you’re new to the area and are unfamiliar with these types of processes.

3. Listen closely for freeway or other road traffic – and remember it will be much louder during rush hour.  Is there a train that runs nearby?  How far away is the closest grocery store or T stop?  These are all things that the landlord might not share with you, but will inevitably impact the comfort of your living environment.

4. If the landlord isn’t thorough, and doesn’t seem to have a formal process for securing renters, be wary.  Just think, if they don’t do their due diligence with you, then they likely don’t spend much time taking care of their rental property.  The reference check, credit check and seemingly incessant questioning might seem like a nuisance at the time, but it’s a sign that the landlord cares about their home, which likely means they’ve taken good care of it.  Even better if they’re using a broker, as this indicates a commitment to finding good, responsible tenants for a home they clearly care about.

5. Ask the landlord about their maintenance processes, including pest control and major appliances.  Do they have a procedure in place for making repairs, or does it seem like they’ll just wing it?  Many landlords have specific vendors that they use while others might have a family member who works as a local handyman.  When the air conditioner sputters and dies on the hottest day in July, it will be good to know that your landlord has a plan in place to fix the problem thoroughly and expeditiously.

There’s a lot of competition for good rentals in and around Boston, so when you find a place that seems perfect, it’s understandable to feel pressure to get the papers signed.  Make a standard list of questions to take with you on your walk through, and add to it as you notice things around the home.  Making a hasty decision without knowing what exactly you’re getting into can cost you big, so be informed, be prepared and most importantly, listen to your gut if something doesn’t seem quite right.  For more advice on finding a great rental property in the city, feel free to reach out to our experts at The Charles Realty, 617- 236-0353

Tuesday Tip – A Must Have Checklist for Home Loan Shopping

November 4th, 2014

Shopping for your dream home is exciting!  Shopping for a mortgage, not so much.  But for most, there is no dream home without a mortgage, and so it begins – the analysis of financials, the gathering of paperwork, the list of questions to ask, and re-ask lenders (ahem, layman’s terms please!).  Today’s tip, The Ultimate Home Loan Shopping List, comes to us via Trulia (www.trulia.com), and features a reference guide for important documents you’ll need to bring with you to lender appointments, and critical questions you should ask to secure the best rate.  The author, Rebecca McClay (http://www.trulia.com/tips/author/rebeccaclay/) gives you all the information you’ll need to make shopping for your home loan a less stressful and – dare I say – more enjoyable experience, giving you more time to focus on the fun part – picking out your new home!  For more information about lender comparisons and specific things to know when applying for a condo loan, feel free to reach out to our experts at The Charles Realty, 617-236-0353.

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.