The New Era of Buying and Selling Real Estate — And How It Affects You

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has reached a historic settlement that could transform the home sales market in the U.S. This agreement, which includes $418 million in damages, does away with the standard 5%-6% real estate agent commission.

Here’s why this change is significant:

A Buyer’s and Seller’s Market for Commissions

In accordance with the settlement, sellers are not obligated to cover the buyer’s agent commission. This could lead to a change in contingencies for both buyers and sellers.

For example, the seller might want to make a commission offer to the buyer’s agent; or, the seller might ask the agent to lower their commission if the price is over a certain amount. So while this could be a good thing for buyers and sellers in the long run, the changes could leave more room for advanced negotiation tactics.

In addition, agents must inform their clients that commissions are negotiable. These changes go into effect on August 17, 2024.

Market Shift and Strategic Moves

This shift promises to be one of the most significant in recent housing market history. Lower commission rates could potentially lead to a decrease in home prices, further altering the buying and selling dynamics. For home sellers considering listing soon, waiting for the new commission models to become established might be a prudent strategy. Alternatively, aggressive negotiation with your real estate agent could lead to immediate savings.

Work with Your Real Estate Dream Team

In this evolving market, having a solid real estate team is more important than ever. Collaborate with your favorite mortgage broker and a trusted closing attorney to navigate the new market conditions effectively. We can offer essential guidance and support, ensuring a smoother, more cost-effective transaction process.

The NAR settlement signifies a new era for real estate, offering cost savings and a wider range of options for both buyers and sellers. As the market adjusts, remaining informed and consulting with your support team will be your key to real estate success.

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Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

New Year’s Resolution Recommitment Day

New Year’s Resolution Recommitment Day, observed on June 1st, serves as a reminder that the year is almost halfway through.

This day encourages us to revisit and recommit to the resolutions we set at the start of the year (if we did at all).

As the initial excitement of the New Year wanes, so does the momentum to maintain resolutions, whether they be related to fitness, personal development, or professional goals.

New Year’s Resolution Recommitment Day is a perfect opportunity to evaluate progress, reassess goals, and perhaps redefine the strategies needed to achieve them.

This mid-year check-in can significantly boost your motivation, providing a 6-month sprint to achieve what was originally envisioned, making the second half of the year as productive, if not more, than the first.

Let’s have a productive second half of 2024, whether you make resolutions or not.

Home Improver: Do HEPA Filters Reduce Pollen Allergies?

Now that spring cleaning is over and it’s warming up outside you may have been hesitant to open your windows because of the high pollen counts that come at this time of year.

One way to enjoy a late spring/early summer breeze without sneezing and wheezing is to use a HEPA air purifier. According to WebMD: “HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air. A HEPA filter is a type of mechanical air filter; it works by forcing air through a fine mesh that traps harmful particles such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, and tobacco smoke.”

Choosing the right air purifier takes a little research. The prices range from portables under $100 to large-room units over $500, depending on the size of your space.

Check out this article from Wirecutter/NY Times to see which brands and models they recommend.

If Not Buying Now, Then When?

I get it. The journey toward homeownership can feel overwhelming. It’s a process led largely by the heart. Let’s be honest: Most times, 98% of the process is driven by emotion, and 2% by the math. The balance between feelings and financials is what turns waiting and dreaming into buying and living.

I know many of you have been cautiously waiting on the sidelines, watching market trends with the hope that housing prices will decline. That hasn’t happened except for a brief moment in 2008. History has shown us that these moments are not only rare but often fleeting. Since that brief dip over a decade ago, the market has shown resilience and strength. People invest in real estate for the appreciation.

Consider this: while waiting for the perfect moment, you might be missing out on the perfect home. For 16 years, the sidelines have been crowded with watchers waiting for signs and shifts that never materialize as expected. So I ask: when will you jump into the game?

Waiting for the right time (is there such a thing in a volatile market?) can often lead to missing the right home. As you think about stepping off the sidelines and heading into the action, remember: every moment is the right moment if you have all the facts and your ready to start your search for a great home.

Let’s turn your dreams into reality by taking those first steps together and discuss your mortgage and your plans your new home. I’m more than happy to have a phone or video chat to get the ball rolling.

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Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

National Teacher Appreciation Day

This year on May 7th, we celebrate National Teacher Day, a day dedicated to recognizing the incredible impact teachers have on our lives.

But how can we truly thank these amazing individuals? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Replenish Classroom Supplies: Teachers often purchase essential supplies out of their own pockets. A box of crayons or construction paper might seem small, but it’s a thoughtful gesture.
  2. The Power of Words: Write a heartfelt card or letter to your child’s teacher. Expressing your gratitude for their commitment and highlighting their positive influence can make a world of difference.
  3. Ask Them What They Need Most: You may be surprised at the answers. Some may need volunteer help. Others may need socks or coats for their students.

You’ve got more than a week to plan. What small gesture can you make to thank a teacher?

Home Improver: Homemade Chemical-Free Bug Spray

Earth Day was this past Monday and lately I’ve been focusing on becoming less dependent on chemicals at home. I know many of you have expressed this eco-conscious sentiment to me over the years.

To start, why not create a chemical-free bug spray by using safe ingredients you may have in house right now? Here’s a recipe that’s safe to use around kids and pets, assuming they aren’t allergic to these ingredients:

  • 1 gallon of water
  • 2 tablespoons of mild liquid soap – helps the solution adhere to surfaces
  • 1 tablespoon of white vinegar – deters insects and acts as a disinfectant
  • 10-15 drops of peppermint essential oil – known to repel mosquitoes and other flying insects
  • 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil – effective against many flying insects, including flies and mosquitoes
  • 1 lemon, juiced – unappealing to most flying insects


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large container.
  2. Mix thoroughly to ensure all components blend well.
  3. Pour the solution into a spray bottle.
  4. Spray around windows, doors, and other entry or gathering points throughout your home.

Here’s to a year of fewer chemicals — and fewer bugs — in your home!

2024 Housing Predictions in an Election Year

We don’t need a crystal ball to know the Massachusetts housing market is very much a seller’s market these days, thanks to high demand, low inventory, and rising prices. A report from The Warren Group confirms this trend, with both single-family and condo prices reaching new highs in January 2024. While this may seem daunting, it’s important to keep in mind that the housing market is cyclical, and these trends will eventually shift.

Election Year Factors and Potential Shifts

In an election year like 2024, external factors could influence the housing market. While elections rarely have a direct impact on the housing market, we do know that economic directives by elected officials could potentially influence interest rates, as we have seen in 2023. The economy has been a hot topic among virtually all candidates at all levels of government, so it’s natural to expect campaign promises from the candidates as we inch toward November 5th.

Predicting the Future

Predicting the exact trajectory of the market can be challenging, but let’s break out the tarot cards and tea leaves and give it a try. While 2024 might see continued price growth, the rate of increase is projected to slow down compared to last year.

With our glasses half full, we’ll cautiously predict a gradual increase in available inventory, which should ease some of the current pressure on buyers and keep bidding wars in check.

Expert Guidance

Navigating a competitive market requires thoughtful strategies and expert guidance. I am dedicated to helping you achieve your goal of owning a home. I can also connect you with experienced real estate professionals who understand the local market and can help you find the right home. Let’s talk!

Get in Touch

I am dedicated to finding you a mortgage that fits your budget and works for your unique situation. Call me at 617-965-1236 to get started.

* * * * *

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

Leap Year

Happy Leap Day! 2024 is a leap year, which adds an extra day, February 29, to the calendar every four years.

This adjustment is necessary to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s revolutions. It takes about 365.24 days to complete one orbit around the Sun. By adding an extra day every four years, we compensate for this discrepancy.

Leap Year Trivia:

  1. Every year divisible by 4 is typically a leap year unless it is a century year (ending in 00). Century years must be divisible by 400 to be leap years. Therefore, 2000 was a leap year, but 1900 was not.
  2. The chance of being born on February 29 is 1 in 1,461.
  3. The Summer Olympics and U.S. presidential elections are held in leap years.
  4. The concept of leap years dates back to the time of Julius Caesar in 45 BCE, with the introduction of the Julian calendar.

Home Improver: Pre-Spring-Cleaning Checklist

We are in for a warmup starting this weekend. Spring is only a few short weeks away. But before you begin your annual Spring Cleaning ritual, here’s a checklist of things to prepare in your home before the big scrub.

Indoor Refresh

  • HVAC Tune-up: Schedule a check-up for your heating and air conditioning system. Improve efficiency and prevent breakdowns as the weather turns warmer.
  • Change Air Filters: Replace those dusty filters for cleaner air and better airflow.
  • Inspect Your Roof and Gutters: Look for missing shingles, damaged chimney flashing, and gutter clogs left behind from winter storms.
  • Check for Foundation Issues: Take a walk around your home and look for any developing cracks.

Yard and Garden Revival

  • Tend to the Lawn: Aerate and reseed if needed; start applying pre-emergent weed control.
  • Prune and Prep: Cut back dead branches on shrubs and trees, and prep your garden beds for planting.
  • Choose Your Blooms: Decide on spring flowers and start mapping out your garden design.

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they’re in good working order.

Massachusetts Out-Migration: What It Means for 2024 Housing

According to the 2023 National Movers Study by United Van Lines, Massachusetts ranked seventh on the list of the “Most Moved-From States” last year. This is called “out-migration,” when a significant number of people leave a geographic area within a country. The reverse is “in-migration” (not “immigration,” which refers to moving to a new country.)

The Exodus Isn’t New

The study found that 7% of customer moves in Massachusetts were outbound. This figure is consistent with the previous year’s data, indicating a continuing trend.

Why Are They Leaving?

The reasons for departing Massachusetts are varied. According to the survey:

  • 28% moved out because they found new jobs in other states.
  • Just over 19% left for family reasons.
  • 18% said they were retiring elsewhere.
  • 16% departed due to “lifestyle changes.”

Here’s a surprise: Massachusetts, and especially the Boston area, are known for a high cost of living. Yet only 2% of those surveyed said they were moving due to rising costs.

Where Are They Going?

While Massachusetts saw a high percentage of outbound moves, other New England states are attracting new residents. Vermont was the top “inbound” state for the third-straight year, with over 65% of all moves being inbound. Those headed to Vermont cited family, lifestyle, and job reasons for their move.

Rhode Island was fifth on the inbound state list, with 45% surveyed saying a new job attracted them to the state. The other states seeing the most inbound moves for 2023 were Arkansas (4th), South Carolina (3rd), and Washington, D.C. (2nd).

How Are Home Sales Affected?

It would appear that with more people leaving the state than entering it, there would be more available inventory in 2024. This is not necessarily the case when you consider that many of those heading to new states are renters. In addition, homeowners are hesitant to sell now after having bought or refinanced at historic lows during the pandemic years.

No one knows how the market will play out in the coming months, but last Friday, Massachusetts lawmakers committed to working on solutions to this growing concern.

Get in Touch

I am dedicated to finding you a mortgage that fits your budget and works for your unique situation. Call me at 617-965-1236 to get started.

* * * * *

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

Groundhog Day

On Friday, will the groundhog see his shadow? I hope not! It would be nice to have an early spring for a change!

But wait. How accurately has Punxsutawney Phil, the most famous groundhog, fared in his predictions?

Records dating back to the 1880s show that Phil and his predecessors aren’t the most reliable. In fact, all the groundhogs who have played Phil over the years have combined for a 39% accuracy rate.

So have fun with the tradition, but know that the groundhog has a worse chance of being correct than having you flip a coin. He is very cute, though.

Home Improver: Regulating Humidity Levels in Winter

Ah, the dreaded dead of winter. It’s freezing outside, you threw your back out shoveling heavy snow, and your skin is so dry it’s cracking. We can’t do much about the first two winter-related issues, but let’s talk about that dry skin. You house may be too dry and needs to be humidified to add moisture to the air. Investing in a humidifier may be your best bet, but here are some DIY alternatives.

  1. Ventilation: Proper ventilation is crucial, especially in areas like the kitchen and bathroom where moisture levels can rise quickly. Use exhaust fans to help remove excess humidity.
  2. Air Leaks: Seal air leaks around doors, windows, and other openings to prevent cold, dry air from entering and warm, moist air from escaping.
  3. Indoor Plants: Some indoor plants can naturally increase humidity levels through a process known as transpiration.
  4. Use of Water Basins: Placing water basins near heating sources can help evaporate water into the air, slightly increasing humidity levels.
  5. Monitor Humidity Levels: Use a hygrometer to keep track of your home’s humidity levels. This will help you adjust your methods as needed to maintain the ideal range of 40%-60%. In this range, you’re safe from dry skin but also safe from mold and bacteria, which form when a house is too humid.
  6. Air Drying Laundry: Hanging laundry to dry indoors can increase humidity levels. This is a natural and energy-efficient method, though it should be used sparingly in smaller spaces to avoid excessive moisture.

Good luck, stay warm, and grab some hand lotion and lip balm at your local drug store!

Has the American Dream Changed? How Generational Attitudes Influence Homebuyers

Back in May, we talked about which generations were buying the most homes — and it became one of our most popular articles to date. We thought we’d give another breakdown by generation, this time to see how mortgage rates and attitudes have influenced homebuying practices. The way that different generations view the need for home ownership has changed over time, and mortgage rates have played a significant role. This article was inspired by this recent piece in the Boston Globe.

Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) came of age during a time of economic prosperity and low interest rates. As a result, many Baby Boomers were able to buy homes at a young age. Home ownership was seen as a sign of financial success and stability.

In the 1980s, mortgage rates soared to record highs. This made it more difficult for Baby Boomers to buy homes, but many were still able to do so because they had already saved for a down payment and had strong credit scores. Homes were considerably cheaper back then, so the exorbitant rates of 18% didn’t necessarily hinder sales.

Generation X (born 1965-1980) came of age during a time of economic recession and rising interest rates. As a result, many Generation Xers were unable to buy homes as easily as Baby Boomers. Home ownership was still seen as a desirable goal, but it was not as attainable for many people.

In the 1990s, mortgage rates began to fall. This made it easier for Generation Xers to buy homes, but many were still hesitant to do so because they were worried about the possibility of another recession.

Millennials (born 1981-1996) are the first generation to come of age in the digital age. They have faced a number of challenges, including student debt, stagnant wages, and rising housing costs. As a result, many Millennials are delaying home ownership or choosing to rent instead.

In recent years, mortgage rates have fallen to historic lows. This has made it more affordable for Millennials to buy homes, but many are still hesitant to do so because they are worried about the possibility of another housing bubble.

Gen Z (born 1997-2012) is the most diverse generation in American history. They are also the most tech-savvy generation. Gen Z is still coming of age, so it is too early to say how they will view the need for home ownership. However, it is likely that they will be influenced by the experiences of Millennials.

The Need for a Holistic Approach

The decision of whether or not to buy a home is a personal one. There are many factors to consider, including your financial situation, your lifestyle, and your long-term goals. Mortgage rates are just one of the factors to consider.

If you are thinking about buying a home, it is important to do your research and understand the market. You should also talk to a financial advisor and a real estate professional to get personalized advice. Let’s look at the full picture and its impact on your future to decide what makes the most sense for you.

Let’s Talk

I am dedicated to finding you a mortgage that fits your budget and works for your unique situation. Call me at 617-965-1236 to get started.

* * * * *

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

September Fun

Feeling like summer’s over and you didn’t have enough fun with friends and family? Here are some events and activities you can attend in September:

  1. Davis Mega Farm Festival and Corn Maze. So much to do and see. Perfect for a family outing. (Sterling, MA)
  2. The Big E is the ninth largest fair in North America. Enjoy the sights, sounds and taste tempting aromas of the fall season. (West Springfield, MA)
  3. The Lawn on D is a playground for adults (though kids are welcome), complete with LED swings, pickleball, live music, food and beverages. (Boston)
  4. Whale-Watching Catamaran Cruise. Have a guided tour on the open water to see nature at its finest, with up-close views of whales and dolphins. (Boston)

Home Improver: Get Creative with Welcome Mats

Welcome mats are a great way to add personality and style to your home’s entryway. But why settle for a boring, generic mat when you can get creative? Here are a few ideas for making your welcome mat unique and eye-catching:

  • Choose a unique material. Traditional welcome mats are made from coir, but there are many other materials to choose from, such as rubber, acrylic, or even bamboo. Each material has its own unique look and feel, so take some time to explore your options and find one that fits your style.
  • Add a personal touch. Consider personalizing your welcome mat with your name, initials, or a special message. You can also have a photo of your family or pet printed on the mat.
  • Get creative with the design. There are endless possibilities when it comes to designing a welcome mat. You can choose from a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. You can also add patterns, graphics, or even quotes.
  • Go for humor. If you have a good sense of humor, a funny welcome mat can be a great way to add a touch of personality to your home. Just be sure to choose a mat that is appropriate for your guests.

No matter what your style or budget, there is a creative welcome mat out there that is perfect for you. So take some time to explore your options and find the perfect mat to greet your guests.

When Big Banks Can’t Compete—Or Just Don’t Want To

The housing market in 2023 has been a challenge for buyers, banks and brokers. According to a recent Yahoo Finance article, housing prices have reached unprecedented levels, while a report from The Hill highlights a concerning trend: big banks are increasingly bailing on small mortgages, driving potential homebuyers to alternative—and often riskier—financing options. In this complex and sometimes daunting market, the role of an independent mortgage broker has never been more critical. Here’s why.

More Options, More Opportunities

Unlike banks or other direct lenders, independent mortgage brokers have access to a wide range of loan products and lenders, including non-traditional financing options that big banks don’t typically offer. This broad scope is invaluable at a time when banks are backing away from smaller mortgages, as The Hill reports. When traditional financing avenues are closing their doors, a broker can keep them open, helping buyers explore an extensive pool of potential mortgage solutions.

Navigating Market Complexity

The housing market in 2023 is not just about high prices; it’s also about rapidly changing conditions, complex rules, and often opaque lending practices. An independent mortgage broker can act as a guide through this maze. They are familiar with the ins and outs of the market and can provide clarity and advice based on years of experience and specialized knowledge. In other words, a broker can help homebuyers understand the terrain and make informed decisions.

Tailored Mortgage Solutions

In a housing market marked by high prices and challenging financing conditions, there’s no one-size-fits-all mortgage solution. Here’s where an independent broker shines. They can take the time to understand a buyer’s unique financial situation and goals, and then tailor a mortgage solution to match. Whether it’s securing a competitive interest rate, finding a lender comfortable with a smaller mortgage, or navigating the nuances of alternative financing options, a broker can provide a personalized solution that a big bank might not offer.

Competitive Advantage

Your mortgage broker’s relationships with various lenders can lead to faster turnaround times, providing a significant advantage in the race to secure a home. They provide more options, guide buyers through market complexities, offer tailored solutions, and provide a distinct competitive advantage.

As the housing market continues to shift and evolve, independent mortgage brokers may not just be a good option—they might be your best one.

Let’s Talk

I am dedicated to finding you a mortgage that fits your budget and works for your unique situation. Call me at 617-965-1236 to get started.

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Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

It’s Almost August!

We hope you’ve been enjoying your summer. As we head into the eighth month of 2023, here is some trivia you might not know about August:

  1. The month of August was named in honor of Augustus Caesar, the first emperor of Rome. It was originally named Sextilis because it was the sixth month in the original ten-month Roman calendar.
  2. The month of August used to be 30 days long. However, it was said that Augustus Caesar added an extra day to the month to match the length of July, which was named after Julius Caesar. So competitive!
  3. The birthstones for August are the peridot and the sardonyx. The peridot symbolizes strength and the sardonyx represents courage and happiness. The flowers for August are the gladiolus and the poppy.

World Records: On August 12, 2012, Usain Bolt set the record for the fastest 100-meter dash at 9.63 seconds in the London Olympics.

Space Exploration: The Mars Rover Curiosity landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, starting a mission that has lasted for many years and has greatly increased our knowledge of the Red Planet.

Home Improver: Do You Really Need Gutters?

Gutters serve several important purposes in a home, and while they might not be absolutely necessary in every situation, they are generally recommended for most homes. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Close up of gutters along a residential rooflinePreventing Water Damage: Gutters direct rainwater away from your home’s foundation, siding, and landscaping, preventing erosion and water damage. Without gutters, water can pool around your home and potentially leak into your basement or crawl space, causing significant damage over time.
  • Protecting the Roof: By directing rainwater off the roof and away from the house, gutters help prevent potential damage to the roof itself. If water accumulates on the roof, it can lead to leaks or even structural damage.
  • Preventing Soil Erosion: Without gutters, the impact of rainwater falling directly from the roof can erode the soil around your house. This can lead to landscape damage and may potentially disrupt your home’s foundation.
  • Protecting the Siding: When rainwater drips down the side of a house, it can cause damage to the siding, paint, or any other exterior surface. Gutters prevent this by channeling the water safely away.
  • Preventing Mold: Water infiltration into your home can lead to mold growth, which is a significant health concern. By keeping water away from your home’s foundation and preventing leaks, gutters can help minimize the risk of mold.

However, there are some exceptions. In arid climates where rainfall is minimal, gutters may not be as necessary. That is not the case in New England, so installing a gutter system is probably necessary. Here’s the exception: certain architectural styles or building codes may not require gutters.

If you’re unsure whether your home needs gutters, it would be best to consult with a local home improvement professional or building inspector who can assess your specific situation.

From Baby Boomers to Generation Z: Who’s Buying More Homes?

Baby Boomers, who are currently between 58 and 76 years old, have become the largest group of home buyers, surpassing Millennials. In 2022, the combined share of younger and older Baby Boomer buyers rose to 39%, while Millennials’ share fell to 28%, according to the latest study from the National Association of Realtors®. Here’s a breakdown by generation with info on the buying habits of each, based on the study.

Please note: Generations before Baby Boomers and after GenZ aren’t listed here because they do not make up a significant amount of home purchases. The age ranges for generations mentioned are approximate and may vary in different sources or studies.

Apologies to those on the cusp of each gen who were grouped into a generation older than they believe they should be in. Feel free to move to a younger generation as you see fit!

Generation Z (ages 18-23):

  • Generation Z represents 4% of home buyers.
  • Many Gen Z buyers relied on support from their families to make their first real estate purchase.
  • Finding a location convenient to friends and family was the most important factor for this group.

Younger millennials (ages 24-32) and older millennials (ages 33-42):

  • Millennials had been the top group of home buyers since 2014 but saw their combined share fall from 43% in 2021 to 28% in 2022.
  • Younger Millennials and older Millennials make up the majority of first-time buyers.
  • Younger Millennials typically stayed in their homes for four years.

Generation X (ages 43-57):

  • Generation X accounted for 24% of total buyers.
  • They had the highest median household income of any generation ($114,300).
  • Generation X typically moved shorter distances, within a median of 15 miles.

Younger Baby Boomers (ages 58-67) and older Baby Boomers (ages 68-76):

  • Baby Boomers now make up the largest generation of home buyers.
  • The combined share of younger and older Boomer buyers rose to 39% in 2022, up from 29% the previous year.
  • Many boomers are repeat buyers with housing equity, looking for their dream homes for retirement or homes near friends and family.
  • Older boomers stayed in their homes for 16 years on average before selling.

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Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is known for being the official kickoff of summer and it is usually filled with vacations, beach visits and barbecues. But the true purpose of this holiday is to remember and honor the sacrifices made by our military service members.

Here are some meaningful ways to honor Memorial Day:

Attend a Memorial Service:

  • Participate in local Memorial Day ceremonies or parades.
  • Observe a moment of silence to honor fallen soldiers at 3:00 PM (local time, as the National Moment of Remembrance suggests).

Display the American Flag:

  • Fly the American flag at half-staff until noon to commemorate fallen heroes.
  • Consider placing small American flags on gravesites.

Write Thank You Notes:

  • Express gratitude by writing thank you notes to active-duty military personnel or veterans.
  • Encourage children to create drawings or write letters thanking service members for their bravery.

Memorial Day is a time to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. By engaging in meaningful activities, we can show our appreciation and ensure their memory lives on.

Home Improver: Landscaping Hacks on a DIY Budget

Revamping your home’s landscape doesn’t have to drain your wallet. With some clever planning and strategic Do-It-Yourself choices, you can transform your outdoor space on a limited budget.

Lush Greenery with Container Gardens
Container gardens offer a versatile and budget-friendly way to introduce greenery to your landscape. Purchase a variety of pots and planters in different sizes and shapes. Opt for affordable plants such as perennials, herbs, or small shrubs. Arrange the containers strategically around your outdoor space, adding pops of color and texture.

Enhance with Pathway Lighting
Illuminate your pathways and enhance the ambiance of your landscape with affordable pathway lighting. Solar-powered lights are a great option as they require no electrical wiring and are energy-efficient. Install them along your walkways or position them to highlight specific features like trees or flower beds.

Transform with Gravel or Mulch Pathways
Create charming pathways in your garden using gravel or mulch. Clear the desired path and lay down a base layer of landscape fabric to prevent weed growth. Then, spread gravel or mulch evenly along the pathway. Gravel offers a rustic look, while mulch provides a natural and organic appearance.

Relaxation Retreat with a DIY Fire Pit
Transform a corner of your outdoor space into a cozy relaxation retreat with a budget-friendly DIY fire pit. Gather bricks or pavers and arrange them in a circular shape to create a fire pit structure. Fill the center with gravel or sand and add a fire ring. Gather some comfortable seating and enjoy relaxing evenings by the warm glow of your new fire pit.

7 Things to Hide to Sell Your Home Faster

When selling your home, it’s important to create a neutral backdrop that allows potential buyers to envision their own furnishings in the space. Sometimes the things you find quirky, others may find creepy. It’s always best to tuck away items that may influence your potential buyers’ love of your home. Here are seven things that should never be present in your home when showing it to an interested buyer.

  1. Your Weird Doll Collection: If you’re an avid collector of dolls, especially those with porcelain skin and beady eyes, it may be best to pack them away during open houses. While you may find them charming, potential buyers may be creeped out by rows of dolls staring back at them.
  2. Funeral Urns: It’s understandable to want to keep your loved one close, but having their cremation urn on display during showings can be a turn-off for buyers. They may feel uncomfortable with the idea of living in a home where someone’s remains are present.
  3. Taxidermy: While some people find taxidermy to be an art form, others find it unsettling. If you have stuffed formerly live animals or other preserved creatures on display, it may be best to store them away until after the sale.
  4. “Inappropriate” Art: Art is subjective, but it’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to selling your home. Pieces that may be offensive or contain explicit content should be stored away before showings.
  5. Personal Hygiene Items: It’s common to leave out toiletries in the bathroom, but potential buyers don’t need to see your prescription medications or adult diapers. Keep those items in a drawer or cabinet.
  6. Religious or Political Memorabilia: While it’s fine to express your beliefs in your own home, displaying items related to religion or politics can be a turn-off for some buyers. It’s best to keep these items hidden during showings to avoid any potential conflicts.
  7. Anything That Smells: This may seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning. Make sure to eliminate any unpleasant odors, whether it’s from cooking, pets, or other sources. Fresh air and clean scents go a long way in making your home more inviting to buyers. Remember this little rhyme: if they can smell it, you may not sell it.

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Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

World Design Day

April 27 is World Design Day. It’ s an major moment for the global design community as they come together to recognize the power of design in shaping our world. This special day has been celebrated every April 27 since 1963.

World Design Day is a great time to refresh your marketing materials and sport a new look for your business.

To celebrate the day, I’ve got a new banner and photo for Raising the Roof. Hope you like it!

I’d like to give a shout-out to all the talented graphic designers, interior designers, architects and professionals that make our world a more visually appealing place to live and thrive.

Home Improver: Rearranging Furniture for the Spring

Spring is a perfect time to give your home a fresh and new look by rearranging your furniture. By making some small changes to your furniture arrangement, you can easily transform your living space into a brighter, more inviting place. Here are some tips for rearranging furniture for the spring:

Declutter: Before you start rearranging your furniture, it’s essential to declutter your living space. Get rid of any unnecessary items and donate or sell what you don’t use anymore. Do this to create a more spacious and open feel in your home.

Create a Focal Point: Identify the focal point of your living room and arrange your furniture around it. This could be a fireplace, a large window, a big-screen TV or a piece of artwork. By doing this, you’ll create a natural gathering spot in the room and a sense of balance.

Add Some Greenery: Spring is all about new growth and fresh starts, so adding some greenery to your living space can help to bring the outdoors in. You can do this by placing some potted plants or flowers on a windowsill or adding some hanging plants to your walls.

Experiment with Layout: Don’t be afraid to experiment with different furniture layouts. Try moving your sofa to a different wall or swapping your armchairs around. By doing this, you’ll give your living space a new and exciting look.

Mix and Match: Mixing and matching furniture styles can create an eclectic and unique feel in your home. Don’t be afraid to pair a vintage armchair with a modern sofa or mix up your dining chairs.

Bring in Some New Pieces: Finally, consider adding some new pieces of furniture or accessories to your living space. This could be a new lamp, a colorful throw pillow, or a piece of artwork. By doing this, you’ll give your home a fresh and updated look for the spring season.

2022 Mortgage Loan Limits to Skyrocket

If you sold your home this year, you probably got more than you expected for it. In Massachusetts, homes sold at a rate that was 16.5% higher than the first 10 months of 2020, according to the Mass. Association of Realtors.

The median single-family home sold for $520,000. Given the low inventory of available houses and the high demand, it’s no surprise that sellers made it to closing in almost half the time of the typical sales cycle.

There is some good news for buyers trying to stay competitive. Loan limits are about to take a record-setting jump. The FHFA has announced that for most of the US, mortgage loan limits are increasing by 18% in 2022, from $548,000 to $647,200.

With rates still very low, now is the time to buy. There’s no reason to wait out the market. In fact, there is a chance that increased loan limits could ultimately drive up the price of homes once again.

If you’ve been thinking about a purchase but you’re concerned about fluctuations in the market, give me a call. We’ll talk through your concerns and help you make the decision that makes the most sense financially.

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If you’d like to chat about mortgage options, please call me at 617-965-1236. If you’re planning to buy this year, let’s talk soon. I look forward to speaking with you.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

2022: Let’s Celebrate

We’re just over a week away from welcoming in 2022, and if you thought I was going to talk about resolutions, you’d be incorrect.
This month, let’s focus on a myth we often choose as a New Year’s goal: work-life balance.

We all want it, and if it seems impossible to achieve, it’s because it pretty much is impossible. Family, work, kids, finances, vacations, physical and mental health can’t be balanced evenly. Instead, try to shoot for work-life harmony.

When we think of “balance,” we tend to think of time and how we manage it. We certainly can’t balance it. But when we think of “harmony,” we focus not on time but on energy. Balance is more about the “who, what, and when” while harmony focuses on the all-important “why.”

To learn more, read this article.

Home Improver: Moth Myths: Do They Really Eat Sweaters?

If you’ve been carefully storing your best sweaters in fear of having moths eat holes in them, we’re here to tell you that moths are not the enemy. This is a moth myth.

The fact is, adult moths don’t eat clothing. I know, we’re shocked! How can this myth have survived for generations and, more to the point, what exactly is eating holes in your beautiful cashmere (or wool) sweaters?

The answer is… moths. It’s kind of a trick question, so let’s explain. Adult moths don’t have the mouth structure to chew holes. The real culprit is moth larvae. Kids gotta eat! Just like caterpillars that chew on leaves before they become butterflies, moth larvae need to chew, too — and their preference is natural fibers, like your delicious wool sweaters.

So what can you do to avoid baby moths-in-the-making from eating your sweaters? Keep them clean and stored away. Hanging them in a closet is like hanging a salami in an Italian deli. It will attract the hungry. Instead, store them in plastic bins with airtight lids or in compression storage bags.

The Big Difference Between Market Analysis and Home Appraisal

Last month we talked about how recent bidding wars have driven up the cost of homes. This month we wanted to explain the important difference between a market analysis and an appraisal to help you understand why those two values may be very different.

Let’s start with market analysis, also known as as comparative market analysis or CMA. This is the process real estate agents use to determine the optimal price range for a house before it goes on the market.

Data from recently sold, similar properties in a given area, known as comparables or “comps,” are used by the real estate agent to determine a competitive price for your property. By focusing on sales from the last three to six months, the agent is determining a fair market value, based on future trending prices. They set their market value based on the speculation of what could be the best case scenario.

Now let’s see how home appraisals are different. First, it should be noted that appraisals happen after an offer is accepted.

A licensed, third-party appraiser with no vested interest in the sale of the property, provides an unbiased opinion of the value of the property based on historical sales data for the area.

Here’s the interesting part: both the real estate agent and the appraiser use largely the same sources for data. However, real estate agents project value towards the future, whereas appraisers focus on past history. You can see how it’s more likely for the market value to be set higher than the appraised value, though not in all cases.

The purpose of the lender ordering an appraisal is to ensure that the amount of money they are lending does not exceed the property’s value.

Because of this, the buyer would be responsible for paying out of pocket for costs beyond the appraisal. We have seen this often in recent months because of the shortage of inventory and the eagerness of buyers to take advantage of historically low rates for their mortgages.

Should you jump into buying (and possibly over-bidding) on a new home? It may depend on what you’re willing to sacrifice and what you can afford to pay.

Talking to a mortgage professional is recommended now more than ever. Let’s look at your options and determine a plan that makes sense for you and your financial situation.

If you’d like to chat about mortgage options, please call me at 617-965-1236. If you’re planning to buy this year, let’s talk soon. I look forward to speaking with you.

Ready to buy a new home or refinance the one you own? Please get in touch and I’ll be happy to answer your questions and help guide you through the process. I look forward to speaking with you.

4th of July

Sunday is July 4th and with that comes a long weekend of family gatherings, cookouts, and fireworks.

Most businesses are closed Monday, July 5th, in observance of the holiday, because the 4th is on a Sunday. Had it been on a Saturday, your business more likely would have closed Friday instead.

July 4th Facts:

  • 12 of 13 states voted in favor of independence on July 2, not July 4, when the declaration was actually adopted.
  • New York didn’t vote until July 9th. Many patriots didn’t sign their names to it until August 2, 1776.
  • The Fourth of July wasn’t designated a federal holiday until 1870 and wasn’t a paid holiday until 1941.
  • The two founding fathers and political rivals — John Adams and  Thomas Jefferson — both died on July 4, 1826, which was our nation’s 50th anniversary.
  • Finally, ever wonder why we have fireworks? At the first official 4th of July celebration in Philadelphia in 1777, a cannon was fired 13 times, once for each colony. That night, 13 fireworks were fired off from the city’s commons. And the tradition grew from there to cities and towns across the nation.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Thank you for your friendship and your business!

Home Improver: Gather Safely This Summer

We are all pretty much done with lockdowns and social distancing. Most families are ready for a return to normalcy. In the summer, that means more backyard barbecues, beaches and vacation time with friends and loved ones.

With 70% of the state of Massachusetts having had at least one COVID-19 vaccination, we are one of the highest vaccinated states in the country. That’s good news for gatherings. But if like most families hosting events, you’re probably not going to ask for proof of vaccinations as you welcome them into your home. So be safe, but have fun.

Plan an outdoor event. Keep your guest list as small as possible. Arrange seating at a reasonable social distance. Unvaccinated guests should be wearing masks, especially around the elderly or unwell. The CDC has guidelines for unvaccinated people, but it doesn’t preclude them from participating in fun events — if they wear a mask. Here’s what they say.

Summer is in full effect. Enjoy your home and get back to seeing people in person. Need a quick tutorial on prepping your backyard for a party? Click here.