Archive for the ‘The Trends’ Category

Tuesday Tip – How to Make a Small Space Feel Larger

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Wednesday, 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

Tuesday, 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

Monday, 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

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

Thursday, 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

Monday, 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

Tuesday, 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?