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The Realtor's Pick - Best Spots for Apple Picking This Fall

We look forward to apple picking season every year - it's a great way to get the whole family outdoors enjoying the crisp autumn sunshine and delicious local produce. We are spoiled for choice in our local area with so many orchards to choose from, so to help you decide where to go we asked our Realtors to recommend their favorite spots. Some venues offer lots of other activities alongside the picking - petting zoos, corn mazes, playgrounds and tractor rides to name a few. Others are a more traditional orchard, with perhaps a farm store serving fresh apple cider donuts. Whatever your preference, we’ve got something for you - here’s our top 10 Apple Picking Spots north of Boston.

Honey Pot Hill Orchards - Stow

PYO plus hayrides, maze and farm animals.

Shelburne Farm - Stow

PYO, Tractor Playground, farm animals and hayrides.

Carlson Orchards - Harvard

PYO plus cider barn taproom.

Doe Orchards - Harvard

PYO and Meet the Tractors.

Drew Farm - Westford

PYO apples and pumpkins.

Autumn Hills Orchard - Groton

PYO with amazing views.

Parlee Farms - Tyngsborough

PYO plus farm stand, animal farm, tractor training and hay maze.

Boston Hill Farms - North Andover

PYO plus farm stand and farm animals.

Brooksby Farm - Peabody

PYO fruit and flowers plus play yard, barnyard animals, fairytale trails and hayrides.

Russell Orchards - Ipswich

PYO plus farm animals, winery and farm store.



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    The Boston Suburbs Housing Market - August Round-Up

    Summer is typically a quieter time in real estate, with people making the most of the good weather and enjoying the slower pace of life. We certainly saw a drop in activity during August compared to prior months, with fewer listings hitting the market and fewer buyers out searching - as is expected at this time of year. No surprises so far.

    Comparisons to August 2020 are a little skewed, as last summer’s market was atypically busy, so we would expect the number of closings to be lower than the previous year - and that is the case across all our markets. However, even bearing that in mind, we can see familiar trends in the housing market in areas around Boston such as Acton, Concord, Lexington and Winchester. House prices continue to increase, with average sales prices up more than 30% on last year in Bedford and Carlisle. Sale price is now at over 100% of list price in all our towns - an indicator of strong demand for homes in these communities. Days to offer have been falling steadily each month in all our towns, and now offers are being accepted in less than 10 days (avg) in Acton and Westford. The number of listings on the market as of September 1st is still low - almost half what it was in Concord and Lexington in 2020. All these factors create an opportunity for those who are ready to make a move. There are other influences at play that point towards an eventual slow down in the market, but so far we are not seeing evidence of that in either prices or the speed at which homes are selling. Smart sellers wanting to get a jump on the Spring 2022 market should talk to one of our experienced agents today about listing your home during this prime fall period.

    Our recent blog post also talks about some of the advantages of selling during the fall - including less competition and more focused buyers.  It also includes some tips on how to prepare your home for sale. Consult your agent before taking on any upgrades or renovations to decide whether you will get the return on your investment.




































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      The Last Hurrah - Labor Day Weekend Activities to End Summer on a High

      Labor Day signals the end of the summer season - and with some schools back in session already, you might be feeling that summer is long gone. But if you (like us!) are not ready to say goodbye to fun in the sun just yet, our agents have suggestions for things to do on the long weekend to make that vacation feeling last just a little longer…

      Get On Your Bike

      With the weather a little cooler this is a great time to dust off your helmet and get in the saddle! A fun activity for any age, take advantage of some of the bike paths around our towns for a safe way to get on two wheels. The Bruce Freeman Rail Trail runs from Lowell to Acton, taking in Chelmsford, Westford and Carlisle on the way - it’s around 12 miles long, but you can hop on and off along the way if you don’t want to tackle the whole route. The Minuteman Bikeway follows a 10 mile route from Alewife in Cambridge through to Bedford, passing through Arlington and Lexington and close to many of the historic sites in the American Revolution. If you want to start with a shorter ride, the Tri-Community Bikeway runs from Stoneham to Horn Pond in Woburn via Winchester and is just shy of 7 miles long. 

      Pick Your Own

      If you missed the berry picking earlier in the summer do not despair! Late August / early September is prime peach-picking time, and you might get lucky with some early varieties of apples too! We like Honey Pot Hill in Stow, Carlson Orchards in Harvard and Nashoba Valley Winery in Westford - all have other attractions aside from the fruit picking making them a great place to spend a morning or afternoon with friends and family.

      Lose Yourself

      Corn Mazes are generally a fall tradition, but a few are opening up over Labor Day weekend. The annual maze at Connors Farm in Danvers is legendary and gets more creative (and tricky) each year.  This year’s theme is Barnyard Friends and the maze opens for the season on September 5th.

      Joy Rides

      The long weekend might be your last chance for a while to enjoy a day out with the whole family before fall sports start in earnest. Kimball Farm’s Westford location has mini golf, bumper boats, batting cages and a petting zoo - plus their delicious ice cream! Davis Farmland in Sterling also has a great range of activities targeted at pre-school and elementary age children. For older kids, Canobie Lake Park, just a short drive into New Hampshire in Salem, is always a fun day out. It’s also the final weekend for the local water parks, splash parks and pools, so keep your fingers crossed the weather allows us to take advantage one last time.


      However you choose to mark the end of summer, we hope you have a fun and relaxing weekend. Our offices will be closed on Monday, September 6th but our agents are always available to answer any of your real estate related questions - use our contact form to get in touch!



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        How to Find Your Dream Home in Greater Boston

        Couple Looking at a HomeFinding your dream home always starts with a simple search and a great agent. The housing market in the Boston area can be tricky to navigate, but with the right tools, you’ll be able to score the house you have always wanted. 

        Create a Wishlist

        At the beginning of your journey, you should create a list of wants and needs for your future home. These will be essential in guiding you and your agent’s search for a home. You should conduct some initial searches in the areas you want to live in as well as searching by price range to determine what are common features in those areas and price ranges. 

        When thinking about what types of features you are looking for in a home, be realistic and determine the things that are non-negotiable. If there are things about properties you find in your initial searches, write them down so you can easily refer back to the things that caught your eye. We also have some quick searches categorized by lifestyles and features that you can browse to get started. 

        Search Smarter - create an account with Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty to save your favorite properties and to receive notifications when similar listings become available.

        Find the Right Agent

        Working with an experienced agent during the home-buying process is one of the best things you can do for yourself, and the sooner you speak to a Realtor®, the sooner they can help you find the home of your dreams. You can learn more about our wonderful team of reputable, experienced, and local agents on our website. Select an agent to read their bio and view their contact information. Our team of agents live and work in the communities they serve and have advanced market knowledge they use to help you quickly discover properties, manage negotiations, and make the experience more comfortable overall. You can learn more about how our agents go above and beyond for our clients here.

        Explore Open Houses

        To get a better idea of what homes in Greater Boston have to offer, there’s no better way than going to view a home in person. Browse upcoming open houses here, this list is updated whenever a new open house is listed so be sure to check back often or speak to your agent. Even if the home is not exactly what you are looking for, you will be able to ask specific questions to a selling agent. You can discover more about particular neighborhoods and see what amenities are available at different price points. A simple walkthrough may turn into you discovering your dream home. 


        Your dream home is waiting for you here in Greater Boston, contact an agent today to help you discover it.

        Prepare Your Home For Fall Market

        Like us you might be in denial that summer will end - we are not quite ready to pack away our beach chairs just yet! But soon enough September will be here bringing with it cooler weather, a return to more normal routines, and a renewed focus on the housing market. There are definitely advantages to listing your home in the fall rather than waiting for next spring. Prices are still high, as a result of limited inventory for the past several months. Fewer homes on the market in general means less competition for buyers than in the busiest season. Buyers at this time of year tend to be more focused, their desire to be in their new home before the holiday season makes them much more likely to move quickly through the process and avoid delay. And while some buyers will be governed by school schedules, more than half of buyers* do not have children living at home, and are therefore not concerned about moving during the school year. So if you are at all considering a move, this fall could be a great time to get your home listed and get ahead of the competition.

        However, the fall market tends to be a much shorter time frame. By November the run-up to Thanksgiving and the Holidays, combined with a change in the weather, shifts attention away from buying and selling homes, so you’ll need to be able to move quickly to make the most of this shorter season. With that in mind, here are some tips for things you can be doing now to be ready to get your home on the market right after Labor Day.



        The number one thing you want to do to prepare for a move is to get rid of anything you don’t want to take with you! Not only will it make your life easier on moving day, removing much of the everyday clutter will help to show your home in its best light. Go through your closet and donate any clothes you didn’t wear this summer - if you didn’t wear it this year, it’s unlikely you will next! Go through your kitchen cabinets and toss any out of date products, and also remove any chipped or cracked plates, cups and bowls - anything already damaged is unlikely to survive a move. Books and games that the children have outgrown can be donated to a local school or playgroup. If you have a lot of excess stuff to get rid of, consider a yard sale - you can pass on your unused belongings and raise a bit of money in the process.



        Once you have decluttered, take a good hard look at your walls and baseboards and address any chipped or flaking paintwork. If you are looking at more than a few touch-ups, it is money well-spent to hire a professional painter to refresh the paintwork. This is especially important if you are making a dramatic color change - neutral palettes are more attractive to buyers, but it takes a good amount of hard work and skill to turn that red accent wall to a pale gray. The same goes for the exterior of your home - flaking or peeling paint can act as a red flag to a buyer, and lead them to question whether the home has been maintained.  It’s a wise investment to address anything that could give potential buyers a poor first-impression. If you are unsure about paying for this work upfront, ask one of our agents about our White Glove program, where you can take care of repair and renovations now and defer payment until closing.


        Tidy Your Yard

        Making the outside of your home look presentable can be challenging during the fall, but there are a few simple things you can do to make a good first impression. At the end of the summer, tidy up any plants that have finished blooming and add a fresh layer of mulch to make everything look neat.  Replace any window boxes or hanging baskets with seasonal flowers such as mums, and keep up with the mowing and leaf raking. Make sure your gutters are cleared so they don’t have water pouring over the top at showings. Wipe down and / or paint your front door and invest in a new doormat or decorative wreath to add curb appeal.

        Get a Realtor

        Most importantly, if you want to buy or sell a home this fall, you should be talking to a realtor now. They can advise you on the current market conditions in your area, assess the true value of your home today, make recommendations on any improvements needed to maximize your sale potential, and give you practical advice on documents you need to get in order. All these things are going to put you in the best position to take advantage of the fall market as soon as September hits. Get in touch with one of our experienced realtors today and start planning your next move!


        *Source: Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report 2017



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          The Boston Suburbs Housing Market - July Round-Up

          Summer is in full swing, and typically we would see a slow down in the housing market as people take a break from their regular routine to enjoy the slower pace of life. However, as we've said before, there is nothing typical about this year. July saw an increase in market volume compared to July 2020, which itself was a busier than usual month as the stalled spring market of 2020 resulted in a hive of activity this time last year. Lincoln saw a staggering 201% increase in total sales volume compared to July 2020. This increase in volume was driven partly by the increase in sales prices year over year - average sale price was up more than 30% in Acton, Concord and Winchester, and by over 40% in Lexington. The market still continues to move at a fast pace, with days on market halving in Bedford, Carlisle and Westford. August may see a return to a more seasonally-typical market - active listings at the start of this month are below August 2020, but in line with what we would expect in a more regular year. However, with inventory low and demand still high, there may be rewards for sellers who are ready to make a move and list their home before the fall rush.

          If you would like more detailed information about the market in your neighborhood, speak to one of our experienced agents. Their knowledge of the local marketplace, combined with our world-class marketing, will put you in the best position to maximize the value of your home. 

          If you are considering a move this fall, check back for our next blog - Ways to Prepare Your Home for Fall Market.




































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            Make the Most of the Dog Days of Summer 

            We are already into August but there are still plenty of warm summer days ahead of us! Here in New England we are conditioned to make the most of the summer months to get us through those long cold winters. Luckily living in the towns and communities north of Boston we have plenty of opportunities to get outside and make the most of the sunshine. Here are some of our top tips to get out and enjoy all that Concord, Carlisle, Acton, Bedford, Lexington, Lincoln, Westford and Winchester have to offer!


            Cool Off

            If you don’t have a pool at home, don’t despair! There are plenty of local opportunities for a dip, from pools and splash parks to public lakes and beaches. Some towns, such as Bedford, Lexington and Concord, have outdoor pools and ponds for residents only that you can use throughout the summer - you can find out more at each town's website. If you are looking for somewhere with drop-in hours, try this list of the DCR run pools and spray decks around Boston - we like Hall Memorial Pool in Stoneham and Beaver Brook Spray Deck in Belmont. If lake swimming is more your thing, Walden Pond in Concord is a beautiful spot, and NARA Park Beach in Acton is another popular place to cool off. Combine a swim with dinner, and perhaps a cocktail or two, at the Sunset Tiki Bar in Westford (adults only after 9pm). For more suggestions check this map. Many towns also have private swim clubs which are very popular and often have waitlists to join - luckily our realtors are all experts in their towns and can advise you on which might suit your needs and how to become a member. 

            (If all this has made you wish you had your own private pool, search our latest listings for homes with pools)


            Listen To The Music

            Outdoor concerts are making a comeback this summer!  As well as headline acts playing the large stadiums and arenas such as Fenway Park and Leader Bank Pavilion, many of our local communities are hosting free music events this month. Winchester has a series of Concerts on the Common during Wednesdays in August - free to attend, just bring a blanket and some snacks! Lexington also has a Friday evening series of summer shows for the whole family, and Acton is host to a series of tribute acts such as Pink Floyd and Foreigner. Kimball Farm’s Westford location has live music on their outdoor stage on a variety of dates this month - don’t forget to try their ice-creams too! For more options check your town's recreation department or local chamber of commerce.


            Movies Under The Stars

            Another quintessential summer experience - enjoying a movie outside! Topsfield is likely the closest drive-in movie location, showing a selection of current and classic titles.  There are also drive-in movie theaters in Mendon and Milton, NH.  Alternatively there are outdoor screenings of movies in many of our local towns, where you can bring your own blanket or chairs and enjoy a rerun of a popular family movie. Try Woburn’s Library Field, Acton’s Nara Park or head to Christopher Columbus Park on the waterfront in Boston for a series of Sunday evening classics.

            If none of these work for you, read our recent blog for inspiration on setting up your own outdoor movie theater in your backyard.


            Free Days Out

            Thanks to the Highland Street Foundation’s August Adventures, you can enjoy a free day out at one of Massachusetts many cultural attractions throughout this month. Along with free entry to a different museum, park, zoo or attraction each day, they are also hosting Out of the Park, a free family event including food, activities and a live screening of the Red Sox game. Booking is essential and some events are already sold out but there are still plenty to choose from - just pick your day!


            Still stuck for ideas? Ask your local realtor! As well as being experts on the housing market, they are also a great source of information on the communities they live and work in. Your relationship doesn’t end when you buy your home - they are happy to help you settle in and get to know your new neighborhood.  Give them a call today!



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              What's Happening in the Housing Market in Your Town

              The Massachusetts Association of Realtors (MAR) just released the latest stats for the end of Q2 and it makes very interesting reading for sellers. Across all of our offices we are seeing prices continuing to rise and days on market to fall as a result of the increased demand and limited inventory.  In Acton so far this year, single-family homes are selling for an average of 109.5% of the list price, and in Carlisle, Lincoln and Lexington that number is around 104%. In all towns homes are selling on average over the asking price, compared to last year when single family homes sold for a little under the list price. Days on market have also dropped compared to the first six months of 2020 - Westford has an average of 19 days to sale, Bedford is 37 days and Winchester is 42 days. In Concord the average days on market has halved since June 2020. Available inventory continues to be an issue - as of the end of June there was less than one month’s supply of homes in Acton, Bedford and Westford. For more details on these towns and many others around us, read the full report here.

              So for sellers the market still has many positive indicators, but things may be set to change this fall. With the foreclosure moratorium coming to an end in July, and both the mortgage forbearance program and pandemic unemployment assistance ending in September, many are predicting a change in the housing market in the coming months. If you are thinking about selling your home, don’t wait to see what will happen - talk to one of our experienced realtors to get a detailed analysis of the market in your area.

              Already decided to sell? Check back for our tips on how to prep your home this summer to be ready for the busy fall market!


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                How to Raise Your Credit Score

                Credit Report Showing Credit ScoreIf you want to get a mortgage from the bank, a good credit score is essential. You should shoot for a 640 if you want to buy a house in Boston, and the higher the score the more options you'll have regarding lenders and interest rates. It is possible to get a loan with a lower score, but it will be more difficult. Several factors go into determining your credit score. FICO credit scores account for payment history (35%), credit usage (30%), age of credit accounts (15%), credit mix (10%), and new credit inquiries (10%). If your score needs improvement, check out our tips below to raise your credit score. 

                Pay Your Bills on Time

                Payment history makes up the largest percentage of your credit score. Make sure you pay your bills on time, like student loans or car payments. Stay organized and on top of your payments and you will be rewarded with a higher credit score!

                Don’t Burn Through Your Credit Line

                Credit utilization is the second most important factor in making up your credit score. Lenders view your credit use as a reflection of how responsible you are with your money. If you have a $5,000 credit line and spend $1,400 of it each month, they will view that more favorably than if you spent $4,800. It’s best to pay your balance in full each month, but if that’s not possible, try to keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit. 

                Keep Old Accounts Open

                The age of your oldest line of credit impacts your score. Keep old accounts open so you are more appealing to lenders. If you have an account with missed payments, resolve them as soon as possible and make sure not to close the account.

                Diversify Your Credit

                Lenders have found that those who have different types of credit accounts, like a car payment, student loans, and a credit card, are not as risky as those without a mix of credit. Handling multiple payments and accounts shows lenders you are responsible. 

                Limit “Hard” Credit Pulls

                Your credit is pulled when someone wants to view it. There are two types of credit pulls, a soft pull and a hard pull. Soft inquiries are when you check your own credit, a potential employer checks your credit, or a similar scenario. Soft pulls do not affect your score. A hard pull is when you apply for a new credit card, mortgage, auto loan, or another form of credit. Several hard pulls in a short period of time are concerning for lenders, so having too many can lower your score. If you’re going to be applying for a mortgage, don’t apply for another form of credit around the same time.

                Want More Tips?

                Contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty to learn more about how to raise your credit score, and what score you’ll need in the Boston real estate market.


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                  Movies Under the Stars - Outdoor Movie Night in Your Own Backyard

                  One of the most special things about summer is enjoying an outdoor movie. There are several drive-in movie theaters in our area that show current releases and old classics throughout the summer months. Topsfield Drive In, Mendon Twin Drive In and even Milford Drive In Theater in NH are all within an hour’s drive, and offer a program of family favorites such as Back to the Future and The Goonies alongside other summer classics like Jaws. They also show current movies such as the latest in the Fast and Furious franchise. It's a fun night out for all ages.

                  However if you prefer to pick your own movie and enjoy your own snacks it's pretty easy to set up your own outdoor movie theater. You can pick up a projector from most of the big box stores which you can connect to your own laptop or device, and then you can broadcast movies from any of the streaming services such as Netflix or Disney Plus. You can also purchase a screen, but a white sheet suspended from a deck or a tree will do just as well. Grab some beach chairs or a beanbag and you are free to create your own special summer memories whenever you like!

                  Take a look at some of these homes from Sotheby’s International Realty to inspire your backyard movie theater set-up. Don’t have the perfect spot yet?  Browse our listings for homes with yards just right for movies under the stars.



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