Posts Tagged ‘Boston Trends’

2014 Home Design Trends to Tryout

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

2014 is a new year of trends and styles. This year’s trends will be focused on practicality, storage ideas, and clever home design tricks. If you’re looking for new remodeling projects to do yourself or have a contractor build, here are some perfect design trends to tryout:

Capitalize on Unused Staircase Space: For those of you with staircases, there’s endless design possibilities. Plan out how much usable space you have under your staircase and then decide what you’d want to do with that space. Ideas include:

Displaying Books

Storing Shoes and Supplies

Create a Reading Nook

Accordion Glass Windows and Doors: Accordion windows and doors are an excellent way to bring the outdoors in during warm weather. This design idea is perfect for anyone that likes to have cookouts or has the occasional outdoor meals. In addition, the glass windows and doors will allow for wide scenic views.

An Accordion Glass Window

Expanding and/or Multi-use Tables: Make the most out of your tables with one of these ideas. An expanding table allows for your table to take up less space when it’s not being used. It also gives you the ability to expand the table only when the extra table space is needed. A multi-use table allows for your kitchen table to have additional uses other than for dinning such as: billiards, ping pong, and poker.

An Expanding Table

An Expanding Table

A Multi-use Table

For more information on 2014 home design trends, feel free to message our Rental Agents directly at our new rentals Facebook page, Newbury Rentals!


Buzzfeed: ‘31 Insanely Clever Remodeling Ideas For Your New Home’

Dornob: ‘High-Tech Dining Table Rotates, Expands & Doubles in Size’

Bored Panda: ‘33 Amazing Ideas That Will Make Your House Awesome’

Renting with Ease: A guide to navigating your rental process

Monday, April 8th, 2013

It’s the season for renting. Students, young professionals, even families are looking to lay their head in the Boston area, but many don’t know the most efficient way to go about it. Smart City is laying out a step-by-step way to go about renting through one of our reputable agents.

  1. Figure out what you want. Whether it be the number of bedrooms, the area, the proximity to public transportation, or the price, come into a rental office with a list of requirements. However, be prepared to be flexible.
  2. Assemble your documents. These include current and past landlord information, student documentation, or paycheck stubs for verification of employment. The sooner you are able to provide these to your rental agent, the faster the process will move along.
  3. Take notes on apartment showings. Make lists of pros and cons and try to recall specific details of each apartment. A rental agent can really help with these details.
  4. Come to showings with a checkbook. Be prepared to make a quick decision if you find your dream home. Properties, particularly in Boston, go very quickly.
  5. Read through your entire lease before signing. This seems straightforward but it’s important to know exactly what you are signing. Have a conversation with your rental agent if you spot anything that confuses you or raises questions.
  6. Finally, make preparations for your move. Consider parking, elevator access and even the weather on the day of the move.

To get in touch with one of our experienced and talented rental agents to guide you through this process, call (617) 236-0353

A Cozier and More Personal Home

Monday, February 18th, 2013

Did you just move into a new spot? Do you have a home that feels sterile and barren? Here are some tips for making your pad more comfortable and personal. When you come home after a long day at work, or a snowy commute, you ought to feel cozy among your things.

  1. Mixing color and texture: The easiest way to dress up your place is to move out of your comfort zone, and add color and texture. Try adding a rug with accent pillows, or picking a subtle pattern for a blanket that contrasts well with a painting on the wall. The more adventurous may even opt to mix multiple different patterns or colors. However, when shopping for home accessories with different patterns, try to bring along photos of the room or accessories you may already own and check that your new purchase matches!
  2. Adding shelving for more than just storage: The obvious purpose of shelving is to store your belongings or books. Instead, consider installing shelves to display trinkets or photographs. Not only is this a way to display your precious belongings at eye level, but it also adds dimensionality to your walls. Just make sure to install shelves with a level, or risk having your favorite trinkets slide and crash!
  3. Wallpaper: There has long been a stigma against wallpaper. Many claim that wallpaper is stuffy and dated when they are reminded by the floral patterns in their grandmother’s home. However, there are plenty of new wallpapers with a modern and stylish feel that will dress up your home in exciting new ways.
  4. Statement wall: Similarly, you’re hesitant to change the walls in an entire room, paint just change single wall! A bright color, or bold wallpaper on a statement wall will give your place a unique vibe with flair. One of the most popular places for a statement wall is behind the headboard of a bed in the bedroom. This single wall with pop can play a trick on the human eye, often making the space appear larger and more design-oriented.
  5. Hanging art and personal photos: It goes without saying that personal photos and art are the most straightforward ways to make your place more cozy, but avoid the collegiate temptation to simply tape or tack your wall accessories. Spend a little time in a Marshall’s or Target to buy some inexpensive frames for your photos. After all- these are your friends and family, they deserve to be hung with care!
  6. Subtle themes: While creating a “theme” for a room may be a bit childish, you can do so in a very subtle way that gives the space a greater sense of purpose and ties each element of the room together. For example, decorate a simple space with a nautical perspective, or give a living room a log cabin feel with leather furniture and plaid blankets.
  7. Fabric accessories: Soft fabrics will always emphasize the coziness of a home. Whether you drape blankets over the back of your furniture, or add a few more statement pillows, adding fabric accessories will make your space feel like one, big, cozy bed. For the more adventurous- try fun floor pillows for guests to sit on.
  8. Exposed closets: Closets are often covered by sliding doors or curtains. However, for organized fashionistas who invest a lot time and money on their wardrobe, consider removing closet doors altogether. This can open up the space to feel larger, and displays a colorful wardrobe as art. Be warned: this can quickly make a space feel messy if not well-maintained, and guests may feel inclined to do some snooping.

As the Holidays Approach

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

It’s important to remember the value of your home. Especially this time of year, when being together with your family is paramount, don’t forget to also give thanks to the building that keeps you safe and warm all year long.

A few things you can do to remember your home:

1. Get it a gift. It will make it seem better all year long. Some ideas are: new throw pillows, curtains or a new rug, or lamp, or maybe go big with new energy-saving windows or a HE washer and dryer. Get something that will make it more of a home.

2. Don’t forget to decorate with love this holiday season! Bring warmth into your space with lights, candles and even some seasonal music. Pandora radio stations are great ways to ensure that your classic music choices don’t run on repeat or get boring.

3. If you are going away, and leaving your home for the holidays, don’t forget to get someone to take care of it. You want to ask a neighbor to get your mail and newspapers and to go in and change the lights every night. Also, be sure to turn your water off in the event of a freeze. These tips might seem obvious, but if you live in a condo, it might not be as natural.

Enjoy the holiday season everyone!

Is Bigger Better?

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

When shopping for a home, what’s on your wish-list? If you’re looking in the suburbs, due to the current state of the real estate market some of the giant homes are being sold for uber affordable prices. Does that mean you should swoop in and grab them? Not necessarily. If you’re looking in the city, the prices per square foot are still so high, that sometimes it’s important to ask yourself: is bigger really better? What could purchasing a small home save you? In time, money and headaches? A lot.

Here are somethings about small homes that make them extremely attractive:

1. Small homes cost less: not only upfront, but over the years. Heating and cooling a small house is so much less expensive than a big house. Furnishing and decorating all the extra rooms adds up, and renovating extra restrooms, or a giant kitchen, comes with a giant price tag. And don’t forget that you’ll be saving money on the property taxes because of the smaller square footage.

2. Tons of time saved: not having to clean 6 rooms, or 3600 square feet, will save you SO much time.

3. Easier to live simply: with less space, you have less stuff. Quick anecdote: when I moved into my first ever apartment in Boston, my dad was helping me move. My apartment was the typical tiny Beacon Hill unit, and I had a black bookshelf that didn’t fit into my room. I didn’t want to throw it away because it was perfectly good and almost brand new so my thought is that we would just put it in our living room. My dad warned my roommate and I against it saying, “Don’t. Give it away, if you put it out here, you’ll just find random stuff to fill it with.” We laughed and kept it. A year and a half later it was full of everything from old DVDs to owner’s manuals to an iron and we couldn’t seem to get rid of any of the stuff. I will never again own more than I need. Ok, so long story short… If you have extra space you will find a way to fill it, and that’s not a good thing.

4. Quality investments: when you have less space to fill, you can spend more money on quality pieces that will stand out in the limited space. You can also afford granite or marble slab for counters in a smaller kitchen, or nicer cabinets. You can update 2 bathrooms nicely and not have to worry about the downstairs ones… Basically, it takes less to make a smaller house really nice.

All in all, a small home also makes for a homier home. I think that if you’re attracted by the glitz and glam of the large McMansion, just take a moment to consider what a smaller home could save you. Is it worth it in the end?

(Source & inspiration)

Thinking of Renting out your Condo Instead of Selling?

Friday, October 14th, 2011

“If I can’t get the price I want for my condo…… I’ll just rent it.”

We can’t tell you how often we have heard this statement over the past few years. With the housing market in Boston in a bit of a holding pattern, many condominium owners feel that the best thing to do right now is rent and wait it out.

There are many advantages to this strategy: the potential of market increase, tax deductions, and many other positive aspects to becoming a landlord. But, experience tells us, it may not be as simple as you think.

As Realtors, it is our job to inform condominium owners of all aspects of all their options. With that in mind, we ask people to consider these Seven Considerations Before You Rent Your Home:

1. Tenant occupied properties tend to sell for less

If you decide to rent your property with the intention of selling next spring or the year after, you need to consider that marketing a property with tenants in place can put you at a disadvantage. Tenanted properties tend to not show as well and create challenges for showing availability.

2. Renting your unit could pose a disadvantage to your condo association

One of the largest obstacles we face in the current mortgage market is owner occupancy. A building with more than 30% of the units rented could lower the value of all condominiums in the association.

3. Damage to the property

Keep in mind that if you have recently renovated or improved your property, having a tenant may place wear and tear on these “new” items. Additionally, despite proper screening and best intentions, a tenant almost never takes as good of care of a home as the owner does.

4. What if you get the Tenant From Hell

Even with a complete, professional screening, there is always a chance your tenant could “go bad”. A landlord needs to think through if they can afford the monthly expense if the tenant does not pay rent, especially in a down economy without the readiness of available new jobs, should your tenant lose theirs. Are the financial advantages worth the potential cost of renovating after a tenant destroys your property or the cost of an eviction?

5. Monthly Nut

The most important first step in deciding to rent your property is to determine the cost of ownership verses the potential rent. Even if the rent can cover your mortgage, taxes and condo fees, you need to consider maintenance, vacancies, building assessments and other potential expenses of ownership.

6. What if the market goes down instead of up?

As Realtors, we are currently very optimistic about the future of our current real estate market. However, we do not have a crystal ball and there is always the chance that over the next year, two years or beyond, the market in Boston will decrease rather than grow. If you rent with the intention of selling for more “next year”, you could end up being a landlord much longer than you planned for.

7. Tenant Issues and Maintenance Problems

Unlike a stock certificate that sits quietly, tenants need things! Are you prepared to get a locksmith at 2am? Do you know good plumbers, electricians? Are you ready to liaise with your condo association if the tenant violates the Rules and Regulations of your association? These are questions any potential landlord needs to ask themselves.

As Real Estate Professionals with a combined 30 years of experience in The Boston Market, we are here to answer your questions, help you weigh your options, and always give you honest advice. Please feel free to contact us anytime for a free real estate consultation or to answer your questions. The knowledge is free! We are here to help and serve.

By, Betsy Herald

QR Codes in Real Estate

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

I think that at this point, it is safe to say that we have all seen the little scan-able bar codes on advertisements and for sale signs. Have you ever scanned one? Do you even own a smart phone that can? Do you even know what they are? For those of you who answered “no” to that last question, they are QR codes, which is short for “Quick Response codes.” The idea is basically, if you have a QR code scanner on your smart phone (which is a free app), where ever you see a QR code, all you have to do is snap it with your phone and you’ll be sent to a webpage with details on whatever it is that the code was printed on. In the case of real estate, this means that just by scanning a QR code on a for sale sign outside of a property, you could be sent to the price, square footage, condo fees, and all other useful information about the property instantly to your phone.  When you think about it that way– it is really no wonder why QR codes are considered among the gold standards for mobile marketing.

However, how many people are actually utilizing them to their full potential?  And who are these people? “Thirty-five percent of adults own a smart phone, according to the Pew Internet Project, making the QR technology available to them.” (Source) but that that mean they use it? Although some people definietly remain skeptical or in the dark about QR codes, there has certainly been a boom of them in the last year or so. Now, “Scanbuy Inc., a New York company that develops and manages QR codes, processes 1.2 scans a second, every second of the day, or more than 100,000 scans per day globally. (When the smart phone app scans the code, it acts like a hyperlink, taking the user to a webpage.)” (Source).

And, who is doing all this scanning? “Men are bigger scanners than women (60.8 percent), and people with household incomes of $100,000 or more scan more than lower earners, according to comScore. Scanning is also a young person’s game. Those 25 to 34 scan more than people between 35 and 44, who scan more than those in the 45-to-54 group, and so on. Only 2.9 percent of scanners are 65 or older.” (Source) So, does this make the codes a logical addition to sales listing signs? Possibly.

Have you ever scanned one? After reading this– will you? And from a marketing perspective it is important to think about the fact that a QR code takes up a little amount of space on an ad, but the potential punch it can deliver is large.

Cash Deals in Massachusetts

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

So far this year one third of the homes purchased in Massachusetts were bought in cash– mortgage free. In an economy that is known for its down market- why are we seeing this? Possibly because the only people who have enough assets to buy in this economy are the ones who would buy in cash anyway? Or maybe it’s a reaction to the new, firm, and constricting guidelines surrounding mortgages. Or perhaps it’s the volatile stock market that has investors searching for more tangible and stable ways to invest their money. “Brian Bethune, an economist at Amherst College, said wealthy buyers may want to take advantage of deep discounts in the high-end market rather than watch their money flounder in stocks and bonds.” (Source).

Whatever the reason, the trend is not isolated to Boston. “Across the nation, about 31 percent of all August home sales were in cash, the second highest percentage since February, when it reached nearly 34 percent, according to a survey by the Maryland-based trade publication, Inside Mortgage Finance.” (Source).

Many people are buying in cash: investors picking up run-down properties to either flip or fix up and rent, foreign buyers, empty-nesters that are down-sizing and moving into the city who can buy a condo with the profit from the sale of their suburban home, or wealthy parents buying their kids a condo to live in while they go to school in the area.

Regardless of the reasons, this is atypical and remarkable percentage of cash purchases, and an impressive increase after 22% in 2010 and 20% in 2009.

The story was published on the front page of the Boston Globe and can be found here: Source.

The Importance of Staging

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

This morning I was watching Get It Sold on HGTV while getting ready for work, and it inspired me to write about the sheer importance of staging a home that you’re trying to sell. I know it’s a common topic, and that I have written about it before but it is more a part of my life now than ever before. Recently, one of our sale’s agents had a client that listed an empty home. Reluctant to spend the money on staging, they marketed and showed it empty.  Without selling it after time, the seller agreed to lower the price and to stage it.  This cost the seller significantly more than just staging it in the first place. The lesson learned is that buyers cannot visualize their lives in a space that doesn’t have specific assignments for rooms and coherent design elements. This is the message that Get It Sold was POUNDING home this morning.

There is nothing more important than the first impression, they say that typically buyers decide if they want to buy a place within 30 seconds of being inside. This means that the curb appeal and entry way must not be left out of your staging efforts. (Sometimes staging the living spaces including the kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms takes precedence). Walking up to your home, buyers notice everything, so be very attentive to details.

If the task of staging your home is too daunting for you to take on by yourself, it is best to hire professionals. There is rental furniture companies specifically for staging. If you’re feeling up to the task, here are expert tips.

Good luck!

Navagating Boston’s Rental Market

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

The vacancy rate in rental units is down lower than it has been in the Boston area since the end of 2002.

“Boston-area rents are hitting new heights – with the median price recently reaching $1,665 a month” (source). Perspective-tenants are scrambling to find affordable places for September 1st. We hear stories of some landlords taking advantage of the desperation and hiking up rents, and of others requiring extreme items from possible renters in order to consider them.

Here are some tips to navigating this tough rental market:

1. Work with a rental agent.

While it means sometimes paying a fee (typically one month’s rent), working with one agent who can scour MLS and exclusive rental listings that are not on Craigslist will very  be helpful to you. Plus good rental agents have relationships with landlords, and if you have them to back you up as a good fit for the unit, then you stand a much better chance of getting it! A good rental agent can also help you understand your lease, etc. and walk you through the complicated process of renting an apartment in Boston.

2. If you do want to do it on your own…

Search the listings by owner on Craigslist. If you can get a floor in a single family, you could save a lot of money, and a lot of headaches if your landlord shares a wall with you. If Craigslist comes up short, go to the area you’re wanting to live in and look for “for rent” signs in the windows. Just because it’s not online, doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t exist.

It’s hard out there, but perseverance and sacrifices are necessary if you want to find the perfect rental unit for September! Good Luck!