For Home Sellers

The Home Selling Process

Selling Your Home in Greater BostonAre you selling a home in the Greater Boston area for the first time? Or has it been a while since you’ve sold a property? If so, it’s helpful to get a general overview of the selling process from start to finish. Here are the basic steps.

1. Find a Real Estate Agent

The agents at Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty will guide you through each step of the selling process. We will help you navigate the market with confidence by sharing our local expertise and we will look out for your best interests. 

2. List Your Home

Once you've chosen a real estate agent, you'll sign an agreement that gives the agent exclusive rights to list your home on the market.

3. Get a Market Analysis

Your agent will provide a comparative market analysis and recommend the best listing price for your home. You’ll find out how much your property is worth so you can price it competitively to sell in the local market. Our team provides you with an accurate Opinion of Value based on statistical data.

4. Market Your Home

Your agent will gather all of the information for the MLS listing and will advertise your home for sale. Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty gives you the most exposure to buyers locally and around the world.  Learn about our services for sellers

5. Show Your Home

Agents and prospective buyers will walk through your property, so it’s important that buyers are able to see themselves living in it. A clean and de-cluttered home that’s properly staged will do the trick. Our team offers free advice on staging, minor repairs, and more.

6. Get Offers

Your agent will negotiate any offers received on your behalf. If market conditions are good and your home is priced right, you may receive multiple offers. We will continue to negotiate with your best interests in mind until you receive an offer you are willing to accept. 

7. Close

The paperwork is signed by the buyer and seller and the closing is complete! 

If you would like more information about selling your home, contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty today!

3 Tips on Downsizing in Retirement

House in Greater BostonAre you planning on downsizing your home for retirement? If so, you may some mixed feelings about it. Moving into a smaller home can be an exciting and emotional process. Here are a few tips to make things a little easier.

1. Stay positive. Look forward to all of the good things to come! You’ll be improving your lifestyle and your finances. You won’t have as much home maintenance or housework to do and your utility bills will be lower. You’ll have more time to enjoy the things you want to do, places you want to go, and people you want to see.   

2. Plan ahead. Take the time to carefully assess how much downsizing you really need to do. Visualize your new home, the floor plan, and the amount of space in it. Consider your budget, healthcare needs, and location. Where do you really want to live? Closer to attractions, amenities, family, friends, or all of the above? Planning ahead will make the transition easier for you and your loved ones.

3. Don’t rush. If you try to declutter or get rid of things too quickly, it can be overwhelming. Take your time and go through your home room by room and separate the items you want to keep. If there are things you haven’t worn or used for years, do you really need to keep them? Are you going to have room for these things in your new home? Now, it’s time to purge everything else. You can give the remaining things to family, friends, or charity, have a yard sale, or throw away.

If you would like to learn more about real estate opportunities in the Greater Boston area, contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty. We can help you find the right property for your needs.

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!

Fall Home Staging Tips

Sold HomeThink less is more when it comes to staging your home this fall. You want buyers to focus on your home and its best features, so don’t use too many fall decorations. A couple vases of fall foliage or bowls of seasonal fruit will be enough. Here are some more tips!

Curb Appeal

Rake up leaves and patch any brown spots in the grass to entice buyers to want to look inside your home. Pressure wash the exterior and consider repainting the front door.

Warm Colors

Try adding a fresh coat of paint to your interior walls in warm neutral colors like caramel or cream. Use richer fall colors for any accent walls. Toss a couple of red or orange throw pillows on the couch.

Lighting

Open up your curtains and blinds to let in natural light. Since the fall days are shorter, add extra lamps to any dark rooms or corners to brighten them up.

Fireplace

If you have a fireplace, make sure it’s the focal point of the room. A warm and cozy fireplace is a great feature to highlight in the fall. Rearrange your furniture around the fireplace and accentuate the mantel with a few nice accessories.

If you’re thinking about selling your home in the Greater Boston area, contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty. 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."

It's Time to Prepare your Home for the Winter Ahead

As homeowners know there is always something around the house and yard that needs tending and maintenance. The fall and spring seasons are especially busy as you prepare your environment for the months ahead. I found this checklist helpful and thought you might as well.

Fall Maintenance Checklist By John Riha

You'll be ready for winter's worst and head off expensive repairs when you complete this checklist of 10 essential fall maintenance tasks.

1. Stow the mower.

If you're not familiar with fuel stabilizer, you should be. If your mower sits for months with gas in its tank, the gas will slowly deteriorate, which can damage internal engine parts. Fuel stabilizer ($10 for a 10-ounce bottle) prevents gas from degrading.

Add stabilizer to your gasoline can to keep spare gas in good condition over the winter, and top off your mower tank with stabilized gas before you put it away for the winter. Run the mower for five minutes to make sure the stabilizer reaches the carburetor.

Another lawn mower care method is to run your mower dry before stowing it

1. When the mower is cool, remove the spark plug and pour a capful of engine oil into the spark plug hole. 2. Pull the starter cord a couple of times to distribute the oil, which keeps pistons lubricated and ensures an easy start come spring. 3. Turn the mower on its side and clean out accumulated grass and gunk from the mower deck

2. Don't be a drip.

Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall priority so a sudden cold snap doesn't sneak up and cause damage.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you'll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.

While you're at it, drain garden hoses and store them in a shed or garage.

3. Put your sprinkler system to sleep.

Time to drain your irrigation system. Even buried irrigation lines can freeze, leading to busted pipes and broken sprinkler heads.

1. Turn off the water to the system at the main valve.

2. Shut off the automatic controller.

3. Open drain valves to remove water from the system.

4. Remove any above-ground sprinkler heads and shake the water out of them, then replace.

If you don't have drain valves, then hire an irrigation pro to blow out the systems pipes with compressed air. A pro is worth the $75 to $150 charge to make sure the job is done right, and to ensure you don't have busted pipes and sprinkler head repairs to make in the spring 4. Seal the deal.

Grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-ounce tube) and make a journey around  your home's exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive -- and most important -- of your fall maintenance jobs. You'll also seal air leaks that waste energy. Pick a nice day when temps are above 50 degrees so caulk flows easily.

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.