For Home Buyers

The Home Buyers List: Identifying Needs & Wants

Home in Greater BostonBefore you start your home search, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and how much house you can afford. You may already have a good idea about the things you want to have in your new home, but what about the things you really need? The most important factors to consider when buying a home are the actual home itself, the location, and your budget. 

You’ll save valuable time in your house hunt by creating a list of wants and needs. Start out by listing all of the features in your dream home and then qualify those things as either wants or needs. Different wants and needs affect your home buying costs and you may not be able to get every single thing you want in a home, so it’s good to know what you can and can’t live without. 

Your Needs

The needs are the absolute deal breakers. These are the essentials for the property. If a home doesn’t have these things, you won’t even consider it. These features are either very difficult or impossible to change, such as the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, lot size, property type (condo, townhome, house), and distance from work.

Your Wants

The wants are extra things that would be nice for the property to have, but you would look at a home without these features as long as it meets everything on your needs list. A home that meets all your needs and has lots of these added features would be a great option to consider. Keep in mind that wants are things you can change or add later on, like a pool, skylights, or hardwood floors.

Finalizing your wants versus needs checklist before starting your property search will save you lots of time and frustration. Just remember that no home is perfect, but you do want to make sure you get the best home for you.

If you have any questions about buying a home in the Greater Boston area, contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty! 

4 Hot Reasons to Buy a Home this Summer

Outdoor Deck in SummerIt’s hard to believe summer is almost here again! Although the nice weather means more competition for home buyers, there are many benefits to buying a home in the summer months. Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider buying a home this summer.

More homes on the market. Summer is one of the most popular times to buy a home, and also one of the most popular times to sell a home, so there will be more properties to choose from. The larger inventory gives buyers more opportunity when it comes to selecting specific floor plans, amenities, and locations.

School is out. This means less interruption for the kids. Kids can more easily attend showings, giving each family member an opportunity to weigh in and approve the new home. Plus, they can start the new school year in their new home, rather than trying to uproot them when school is in session. Many parents know that moving and changing schools during the school year can be difficult for kids.

Weather is ideal. It’s easier to go home shopping and explore different neighborhoods when the weather is nice and the days are longer. Communities are typically more active during the summer months, which gives buyers a better perspective about potential neighbors. You’ll also get to see all of the landscaping in full bloom. Enjoy wearing your flip flops and shorts to showings, too!

It’s a great time to meet your neighbors. A wonderful way to get to know your neighbors is to have a summer housewarming party on your new deck or patio. You can fire up the grill, enjoy the sunshine, and play some yard games. The kids will be able to make some friends before the new school year starts.

Ultimately, the best time to buy a home really depends on your particular circumstances and goals. If you’re thinking about buying a home in the Greater Boston area, contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty or start your home search today!

New Year's Resolutions for Any Home!

Whether you’re looking to enjoy the home you’re in or invest in a new one, these New Year’s resolutions for your home are a great way to start the New Year!

Minimize the Clutter

  • Start your year off by giving everything in your home a place to live. Designate space and stick to it! If it does not have a home, evaluate if it’s really needed in your house and proceed accordingly!
  • Label when necessary. This is especially helpful for kids once you set a designated area for each item. Shoes? We know where those go! Jackets? They’re in the coat closet. Laundry? You get the idea.
  • While shopping in bulk may often be a time and money saver, if you don’t have the space for the item, save the peace of mind and keep only what you need on hand.

Maintain the Clean

  • Spend 15 minutes each day speed cleaning! Take a break from social media or spend your commercial breaks wiping down the counters.
  • Set daily, weekly, and monthly rules for yourself and others in your home. Daily tasks might include filling the dishwasher right after eating or wiping down the bathroom counter. Weekly rules might include vacuuming the carpets and changing the linens, while monthly cleaning might include checking the pantry for expired items.

Maximize the Safety

  • Sometimes a New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be an overarching goal. Making a to do list of all the items that have been piled up and making a goal to complete them all over the next year is a great resolution to set! This can span from fixing the squeaky hinges in your home to more safety-oriented things like cleaning out the vents and ducts behind your dryer.
  • If you’re planning a renovation of any kind, be sure to do research into what new safety measures may apply to the job. For instance, adding ventilation to your bathrooms and attic can help prevent mold spores from developing.
  • Doing a check for radon and confirming the carbon monoxide and fire detectors are working are also great things to do at the turn of the year for added safety.

Invest in Expertise

  • If these tasks sound overwhelming, it’s always a great idea to invest in professionals to help you complete your goals.
  • Looking to keep a squeaky-clean house? Invest in cleaning services.
  • Adding, expanding, or repairing your home? Not everything needs to be DIY, so reach out to a professional.
  • Looking to sell your home or buy a new one? We might be able to help with that!

Bringing Your Interests Home: Finding the Right Space is Key

Heading for the home stretch of summer can mean a lot of things, but it should never mean the end of the fun! For car aficionados the summer and fall months are golden, filled with car events all over.

This coming weekend alone there are Chevelle and El Caminos to see in Westford, the Sons of Italy Car Show in Wilmington, the New Marlborough Classic Car Show, the Whitinsville Cars in The Park, and the Road Devils Boston Massacre in East Bridgewater!

When you’re looking to bring your interests home however, finding the right space is key.

If you or a loved one are a tinkerer or a well-skilled craftsman, you are surely aware that not all hobbies are odorless or quiet. That’s where the builder of 15 Charles Street, Bedford, MA one of our recently listed new construction properties, says his garage stands out from the competition. In fact, he highlights this as a selling-point for the garages he built there, “For the car community, a big advantage is having the garage detached from the house.”

For the car community, a big advantage is having the garage detached from the house.

The garage at 15 Charles Street not only allows for car enthusiasts to enjoy their interests, but also provide space that could be used for snowmobiles, boats, or tools for tradesmen. Ample loft space allows for storage of additional tools and items that are necessary for winter or summer hobbies such as skis, snowboards, beach gear, and more. The epoxy floor allows durability for all types of work, and the heated office space just off the garage adds an opportunity for tranquility when the problem just won’t be fixed!

To search all of our listings with garage space click here. For more details on this weekend’s events click here.

4 Things to Consider Before Buying a Retirement Home

GolfingMany people want to buy a home after retirement because specific wants and needs change as you get older. There are lots of things you should consider before buying a retirement home. Here are four of the most crucial factors.

Lifestyle

Probably the most important thing to consider is your long term lifestyle desires. As you get older, you’ll want easy access to things that are important to you. Do you like golfing, hiking, playing tennis, going to the beach, skiing, or boating? You don’t want a long commute to get the things you want to do. You want to spend time doing these things!Sailing

Location

If you’re considering a move to a different town or state, be sure you’ve spent plenty of time there. Do some research and talk to your realtor about the area and different neighborhoods. If you’ve been living in the same place for a long time, you probably have a large social network of friends, family, and coworkers. Would you miss them too much, or are you ready for a new adventure in a location you’ve always dreamed of?

Think about how easy (or how hard) it will be to get around. Larger cities and suburbs offer a wealth of amenities, public transportation, healthcare, and local attractions while rural areas can be more appealing if you have friends and family nearby.

Layout

Single story homes are ideal for retirees who don’t want to worry about the future aches and pains associated with climbing (or falling down) stairs. If you’re buying a new construction home, popular features like wider doorways, hallways, and walk in showers are great options to consider. If you have a large home, you may want to downsize so your home is easier to manage. Also, keep repairs and maintenance in mind.

Finances

When you make a financial plan, consider your income limitations from no longer working and include pensions and social security. The price of the home, HOA dues, property taxes, insurance, other monthly expenses, and recreational activities should be included. Weigh the pros and cons of putting a large down payment on your home. You may pay it off faster, but it may not be the best financial move for you.

Thinking about buying a retirement home in the Greater Boston area? Contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty today and learn how we can help!

5 Home Improvements that Pay Off

Like many American’s, your biggest investment may be your home, so you want it to perform well when you put it on the market. Some home renovations can be costly, so you want to make sure the upgrades will make your home more attractive to potential buyers and give you the biggest bang for your buck. Here are some home improvements that pay off when it comes time to sell your home!

Energy Efficient UpgradesHome Improvements Kitchen

Improving your home’s energy efficiency may make a bigger difference and give you more bang for your buck than cosmetic upgrades. The number of energy efficient homes is on the rise, and many home buyers favor energy efficient homes because of potential long term savings. Think attic insulation, HVAC, water heaters, windows, and doors. These upgrades are less expensive than solar panels. It’s a great idea to provide potential buyers with copies of your utility bills to show them how much they can save.

Minor Kitchen Renovations

Renovating the kitchen is one of the key things you can do to improve your home’s value. The good news is you don’t need to do an expensive full kitchen renovation to make a big difference. Smaller things like painting your cabinets, getting new cabinet doors, or switching out cabinet hardware can make buyers happy. Upgrade your countertops and install new appliances, if needed. You don’t need to buy the most expensive appliances to make your kitchen fabulous.

Minor Bathroom Renovations

Updating your bathroom can also make a big impact on buyers. Think about regrouting tile, replacing caulk, updating the toilet, mirrors, and fixtures. These smaller projects can give your bathroom a nice facelift without breaking the bank.

Fresh PaintHome Improvements Paint & Flooring

One of the least expensive things you can do also gives you one of the best returns on investment. A nice, fresh coat of interior paint can really brighten up your home and make it shine. Color trends change over time, but it’s usually best to stay away from deep, dark colors and pure white. Always consider the impact the color will have on the buyer. Select colors that will make it easier for buyers to picture themselves living in your home.

Power wash your home’s exterior to decide if you need to freshen up the exterior paint. Sometimes power washing alone works enough magic. If your front door is older and you aren’t going to replace it, it’s a good idea to paint it!

Flooring Upgrades

Upgrading your flooring can make a huge difference and it makes your home look well maintained. Hardwood floors payoff and they are in high demand, but they are expensive to install. Replace tile and carpet if needed. At the very least, refinish your hardwood floors, wax tile areas, and get carpets professionally cleaned. If you’re on a budget, focus on the upgrading the flooring in the kitchen and living areas to get the biggest impact.

Thinking about selling your home in the Greater Boston area? Contact Barrett Sotheby's International Realty today and learn how we can help!

Real Life Tips for Downsizing

Once again Barrett Sotheby's International Realty will be conducting our increasingly popular seminars for downsizing. Here is an older post with some valuable information, to wet your appetite for the seminar. The sessions are held on four dates in February and you can sign up here.

Barrett Sotheby's International Realty's recent downsizing seminars were informative and inspiring -- and I'm not even planning to move any time soon. Laurie Cadigan, President of Barrett Sotheby's International Realty, offered personal anecdotes about her recent move from Concord to Boston and provided real estate expertise on planning, financing, decluttering, and staging. Marie LeBlanc, President of Transitions Liquidation Services Inc., was on hand to offer strategies for deciding what to keep and what to get rid of to help your move go smoothly.

Cadigan admitted that the whole process of deciding where to move, preparing your house for sale, and then actually making the move was "one of the hardest things I've done aside from childbirth." But she outlined the process, breaking it down into manageable steps:

  1. Where do you want to move? Downsizing means many different things to different people. People move for financial reasons, to pay for college, to simplify their lifestyle. And downsizing isn't just moving to a condo from a single-family home. Many people choose to stay in their community but elect to live in a smaller house. Once you decide on an area or neighborhood, get a feel for the housing stock and what you can get for your money. Barrett & Company offers a daily personalized email service where you can see all the new Massachusetts real estate listings that meet your specific criteria of house size, location, price, number of bedrooms, etc.
  2. Who are you bringing? Downsizing is not only for empty nesters. Cadigan and her husband are sharing their new condo with an adult child who is saving money for her own place. They also brought their Golden Retriever along. Cadigan advised, "Look into condo rules and restrictions about pets or even visitors. Some retirement communities limit the amount of time that visitors under age 55 can stay."
  3. What are your finances? It is critical to understand your finances and talk them over with a financial advisor. This is particularly true for people who may not have bought or sold a property in many years. The mortgage process has changed. For example, people remember bridge loans, which are no longer offered by banks. Some retirement communities also have requirements about the makeup of your financial portfolio.

Finding a place and financing a place are the big decisions. Then downsizers are faced with a million small decisions in order to actually make a move. Cadigan and her family faced a household made up of 30 years of accumulated stuff where every item's fate had to be decided upon. And that went for the kids' stuff too. "I applied tough love for my children," Cadigan said. Each child got to fill two plastic bins worth of possessions that she would store for them at her new condo. If they wanted to keep anything else, including furniture for future apartments or homes, they had to take it with them or pay to store it themselves.

Then she got to work staging her home for sale. "Staging is about making things look airy, clean, and neutral. A potential buyer wants to come in and imagine his or her possessions in the house, not be fixated on your decorating style," says Cadigan. Seminar attendees got to see some great before and after photos of Cadigan's home. Her before slides showed flowered wallpaper and custom draperies in the dining room. Personally, I thought it was charming but I saw her point that I wouldn't know if the person sitting next to me in the audience thought the same thing.

The after picture showed the dining room sans china cabinet, with walls painted a neutral off-white, and the windows bare but clean, with sunlight streaming in. "Believe me it broke my heart to strip down my home," said Cadigan. "No one lives like this. But that is not the point of staging. It's about stepping aside and letting the buyer imagine living there."

LeBlanc said the first thing that people who are downsizing should do is draw a floor plan of their new space. Then draw in the furniture that you think you want to bring. "People either think none of their furniture will fit or they think everything will fit,the floor plan doesn't lie," said LeBlanc. Having a real sense of what you will bring will also help when you get an estimate from the moving company.

Then it is time to sell, donate, or dispose of what you don't want to bring. LeBlanc offered great advice about disposing of trash. If you disciplined yourself to throw out two bags of trash each week for a year, you would have gotten rid of the equivalent of a 30-yard dumpster. She warned that dumpsters cost $1,800 to rent, fill and dispose of the contents. Most houses require two!

She also brought realistic expectations to people's ideas of selling their furniture. The bad news is that most furniture brings 10% of its original purchase price. For those who want to sell, she recommends consignment shops, which take 40-50% of the sale. She does not recommend Craigslist for older people because of the security risk of inviting the general public to where you live.

Household Goods Recycling of Massachusetts (HGRM) in Acton was recommended as a great place to donate furniture, including mattresses and box springs in good condition. Charities that offer pickup services also are good but may not take everything. "The lesson is to plan ahead on your donations," LeBlanc said, "you don't want to have a driveway full of stuff that the charity refused to take the day before your closing."

Auction houses have become more accepting in the last few years as to what they will take into an auction. Don't put too high of a reserve on a piece. If it doesn't sell because the bidding did not make the reserve, you will be charged 10% of the reserve price and get the piece back -- and that is not the goal.

Antiques dealers want to get things for as little as they can so they can make a profit. On the other hand, by buying your piece outright, they are taking on all the costs associated with moving it, and storing it and the risk that it may never sell. If you want to sell to a dealer, invite three to bid and compare their offers.

My personal takeaway lessons from this seminar, even though I plan to stay in my home for many more years:

  • Declutter now or you will pay the piper later.
  • Furniture is not the investment that I thought it was. So I guess I won't feel so bad that my cat scratched my couch.
  • When it does come time to move, there are experts to help you. From experienced real-estate agents, to professional organizers, to financial advisors, no one has to handle this all alone.

Cadigan summed it up: "Downsizing is a massive undertaking that can feel uphill at times. But the result for many people is worth it. We love our new lifestyle. I love having only the things that really matter around me. I love having a closet with only the clothes that I really wear. Downsizing has made us feel freer and younger."

Sotheby's Inaugural Designer Showhouse in New York

Sotheby's auction house in New York recently presented an inaugural Designer Showhouse exhibition. The event, which is sponsored by Sotheby's International Realty, Inc., is an innovative approach to highlighting the treasure trove of fine art, furniture and decorative arts offered each season at Sotheby's.

A select group of talented interior designers were given exclusive access to the auction house's inventory and shopped the "stacks" to select a group of objects from which six distinctive interior spaces were devised. These objects include paintings, sculptures, prints, furniture and decorative arts which range in date from the 1st century A.D. through the end of the 20th century and encompass a range of artistic and architectural styles from around the world. Here is a peek at their masterful spaces the designers created.

RYAN KORBAN, known for his retail design including Alexander Wang's flagship store, Balenciaga's men's and women's flagship stores and Fivestory New York; 

ANN PYNE from McMillen Inc., the oldest full service interior design and decorating firm in America;

DAUN CURRY from Modern Declaration, named one of Vogue's hottest new designers; 

New York design duo CATHERINE CASTEEL OLASKY and MAXIMILIAN P. SINSTEDEN from Olasky & Sinsteden whose collective background includes time working for renowned names including Bunny Williams, Sibyl Colefax & John Fowler, David Easton Inc., Charlotte Moss;

SHALER LADD of Shaler Ladd Design Corporation who has built his business by providing exceptional service and quality to a loyal client base for which he curates interiors tailored to the distinct lifestyle and tastes of each individual; and, 

RUSH JENKINS and KLAUS BAER from WRJ Design Associates, who are renowned for curating and designing exhibits for such luminaries as Mrs. Nancy Reagan and Bill Blass.

These designers were given the freedom to create any type of space and impose any type of aesthetic that he or she desired. The hope is that these spaces will demonstrate how good pieces of fine and decorative art can transcend time and space and that the dialogue between these pieces within a contemporary context not only allows the viewer an opportunity to reflect upon the pieces' historical and artistic importance, but also gives the pieces new meaning and significance in the world of today.