Homeowner Tips

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."

Which Kitchen Are You?

 

Upgrading your kitchen is a lot like buying a new car . . . we're not always in the market, but we're always looking.

A good kitchen can not only serve as a great tool to bring together a delicious meal, but perhaps more importantly it can bring your guests and parties to the whole next level!

Here are a few different layouts to explore for whatever type of home or lifestyle you're looking to build (or reimagine).

1) The One Wall Kitchen Motto: I like my kitchens how I like my chocolate -- hidden.

one-wall-kitchen-design

Commonly found in narrow houses, lofts and studio apartments, the one-wall kitchen is great for those of us not looking to make the kitchen the focal-point of the home. While counter-space can be a hot commodity in these layouts, the one wall kitchen can be useful for anyone looking to maintain an open floor plan and entertain as many as possible for a night in.

2) The Galley Kitchen Motto: Get the ****** out of my kitchen.

Galley-kitchen-design

This is a great layout for those of us who consider ourselves "efficient cookers." If you find yourself bouncing between oven, range, microwave etc. without missing a beat, the Galley Kitchen is perfect for you. With the two parallel walls, you can easily use both counter and appliance seemingly at the same time. One of the large downfalls however, is limited standing room and a closed off appearance. While they're great for efficiency they're not ideal for your social butterflies. The Galley is great for lone-wolf cooks who need their space.

3) The U Shape Kitchen
Motto: Feel free to look, but please keep your arms and legs outside the exhibit at all times.

U-shape-kitchen-design

The U-Shape kitchen is another single-cooker kitchen. Much like the One Wall and the Galley, it's design is suited for a cook who needs his/her own space rather than welcoming all the guests into their lair.

One downside to this layout is that depending on where you like your sink, it can be difficult to get it next to your dishwasher with the limited wall space. The nice benefit to The U-Shape, is the approachability it presents while allowing foot traffic to flow outside of the cooking area. You can move around and do your thing with a clear line in the sand. I like to call this layout The Lion's Den…hence the motto.

4) The U Shape Kitchen with Island Motto: Why don't I cook, clean and entertain . . . and you can take care of the dog.

U-shape-with-island-kitchen-design

For the social cookers who are also likely to freshen up the hors d'oeuvres selection every few minutes. This layout allows you to either put your stove on the island and use the perimeter as pure counter space, or to use the island as a seating area. Great for those chatty cooks who like to entertain while they cook and toss their guests some snacks.

5) The G Shape Kitchen Motto: I can rest when I'm dead . . . or when this party is over. I'll likely do both.

The U-Shape kitchen with a small dose of steroids, a lot like installing a turbo system on an award winning race-horse.

This layout is for those cooks who need to maximize every inch of kitchen space and entertain. Rather than having a gap in between your island and counter, this layout adjoins the two for that little bit more surface space. Very efficient and still allowing you to throw some food to the seals every once in a while.

G-shape-kitchen design
5) The L Shape Kitchen Motto: Keep going, I'm listening!

As traditional as it gets. The L-shape is good for multi-cook homes or for cooks willing to welcome guests into their domain for chatter or wine (likely the latter). The only downside to the L-shape is without the island, you will be facing away from the action while you cook/cut/drink begrudgingly by the sink.  You also lose a bit of counter space, for standing room. The L-shape is a versatile layout which will look best in your loft homes, but can easily be rocked in any style of home. But be prepared to be hovered over.

L-shape-kitchen-design.jpg
5) The L Shape Kitchen with Island Motto: Face to island: "Of course, please tell me about your son's gold medal!" Back to island: *restrained angry mumbling*

Take the L-Shape and give it a bit more accessibility, and you've got your L-Shape with Island. With the island, you're able to use a bit more counter space, and have some quicker access to the rest of the home. This layout is great for those of us cooks who want to engage with guests a bit more, while maintaining a safe-zone for any emotional escape you may need. You've got a decent amount of counter space and the ability to cook/entertain on the island. This is a good layout again for those of us who are in a multi-cook home.

L-shape-with-island-kitchen-design

Use this as a guide when choosing your next kitchen, and drop us a line for any hidden gems/tips/secrets you've found useful in your kitchen layout!

All kitchen layout images courtesy of kitchens.com, a great resource for design and product information. Check them out here:

The Danger of Reverse Mortgages

Understanding Reverse Mortgages

Die Gangschaltung

These days it's more and more difficult to secure your future, specifically in regards to your retirement and the funds that go along with it. So many companies offer an out with tempting advertising, one of the most appealing being the "Reverse Mortgage." While we're not here to brand them as the poison apple, it's important that you understand the fine print before you sign up for one. A recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) study found that a number of Americans failed to fully grasp the consequences of the Reverse Mortgage, one of the largest of which can be the loss of their home.

According to their June 2015 study: "A Closer Look at the Reverse Mortgage Advertisements and Consumer Risks" many borrowers are swayed into a number of misconceptions with taking out a Reverse Mortgage. We're here to outline just a few of them.

The first misunderstanding is that a Reverse Mortgage is not a loan. It is!! Like many loans, they come with a stack of requirements. A few of which are that you maintain your home (otherwise it's value could be depleted which in turn depletes the value of the equity you've just given up).

"Reverse mortgage borrowers are responsible for several requirements, including paying property taxes, homeowner's insurance, and property maintenance. Failing to meet these requirements can trigger a loan default that results in foreclosure. "

Another misconception is that these lenders are associated with the government and misunderstand the involvement of the US Government in this program. A number of advertisements use 'American' symbols such as the eagle, scroll etc. to gain trust and convince borrowers that these solutions are government mandated such as Medicare. Make no mistake, these are lenders who require that borrowers uphold the loan agreement, and require that proceeds are repaid with interest.

The false imagery to closely associate lenders with the government can lead borrowers to think they are not meant to repay the loans since they are mandated rather than offered.

"The marketing of reverse mortgage proceeds as "tax free" unquestionably contributed to some consumers' confusion that reverse mortgages are not loans. "

Since you are required to repay these loans, it should go with out saying that they carry interest rates, but many Americans are lead to believe otherwise. Many of these lenders conveniently use fine print to state that they come with compound interest rates on the proceeds of that very loan, in exchange for the equity you hold in your home. Some of these ads even omit the interest rates which leads to an even larger misconception.

"Many consumers we spoke with did not understand that reverse mortgages are loans with fees, compounding interest, and repayment terms unless they saw an interest rate explicitly stated in the ad."

The Reverse Mortgage can be a useful tool for those of us over the age of 62, but it's important that you understand all the details and read the fine print to avoid dealing with the unwanted consequences. For a more complete list, take a look at the report in more depth "A Closer Look at the Reverse Mortgage Advertisements and Consumer Risks"

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.

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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-crop

ANN PYNE from McMillen Inc., the oldest full service interior design and decorating firm in America;daun-curry-1-crop

DAUN CURRY from Modern Declaration, named one of Vogue's hottest new designers; os-1-crop

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;

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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-1-crop

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.

Making a Splash on Pinterest

The meteorologists describe a "heat wave" as "a prolonged period of excessively hot weather, which may be accompanied by high humidity". Here in New England we are in the midst of our third heat wave of the summer.

HOT HOT HOT

And whether you love the heat or hate it, nothing sounds better than a cool, refreshing dip in a soothing aquamarine-colored swimming pool. Since we can't actually give you a pool to dive into to cool off, how about taking a look at some of the stunning images we have collected on one of our favorite Pinterest boards "Making a Splash" for a little imaginative plunge.

Porches Patios and Decks on Pinterest

"'A picture is worth a thousand words.' refers to the notion that a complex idea can be conveyed with just a single still image. It also aptly characterizes one of the main goals of visualization, namely making it possible to absorb large amounts of data quickly," according to Wikipedia. The phrase, in various forms, first appeared in print beginning around 1911. Over 100 years later, Pinterest has become one of the most popular social media sites and it revolves around pictures, pinned every minute by the thousands. Pinterest.com's About Us page says it is "a tool for collecting and organizing things you love." The format of "pinning" pictures to a "board" allows you to gather images online that speak to you, however you'd like to categorize them and then share those pictures and boards with your friends, both real life and online ones.

Barrett Sotheby's International Realty has a collection of Pinterest boards with a variety of titles such as "Architecture", "Kitchen Inspirations", "A Room with a View" and many more. From time to time, we will share those boards here with you and invite you to follow along with us on Pinterest to see what's been catching our eye and perhaps find some inspiration for your own home and garden. As we head into summer here in New England, there is no better place to start than with Porches, Patios and Decks. Whether screened in or wraparound, flagstone or cedar, we hope you find these outdoor spaces to be inviting, lovely to look at and worthy of a second glance.

Move That Furniture...By Hook or By Crook

I recently saw a TV commercial for EZ Moves® that hit home. EZ Moves® are little plastic cups that fit under furniture legs so a woman can single-handedly move an entire room of furniture on her own. A fast-action scene showed the woman gazing thoughtfully at a couch. She uses EZ Moves® to swiftly slide the couch across the room and once again places her hand under her chin for that thoughtful look. You have the sense that she is just beginning her furniture rearranging project.

"That's you!" my husband laughed.

It made sense to me, but actually buying the product would mean admitting that I spend entirely too much time pushing furniture around. Besides, it would also be admitting that I have no able-bodied person in my family willing to help me. And that is just wrong.

I've developed a few of my own maneuvers over the years to single-handedly move furniture. Some have been passed down through the female line in my family. My mother swears by blankets. You simply lift the corner of, say, a bookcase onto an old blanket and then pull the blanket so that the bookcase surfs across the room without scratching the floor.

Wall-to-wall carpeting can be your friend or foe. Sometimes the smooth, soft surface makes for easy dragging of pieces. It becomes the devil when moving anything with legs.

My personal favorite technique for shoving really heavy furniture is to sit down on the floor and push against the piece with both legs. As an added bonus, no need to go to the gym.

Often I do meet my match and wonder why I don't just draw out the new arrangement first. I become quite professional and whip out my tape measure and graph paper. I sharpen my pencil and perch in the corner of the room ready to act like a true interior designer.

I measure the couch and line up the ruler along the graph paper lines. Invariably, my rectangle representing the sofa goes crooked no matter how hard I try. I erase the pencil mark, discovering that the eraser only leaves black smudges. I throw the paper aside and go back to the fanny-and-leg push method once again. I just have to see the arrangement in real life.

There was one time I did successfully "visualize." That was when I decided that the living room needed a baby grand piano to be stylistically complete (even though no one in my family played the piano). I knew I couldn't have a piano delivered, push it around the room and then decide it looked bad. So I made a mock piano. I took a round table and piled miscellaneous chairs around it to create the approximate diameter of a big, hulking piano. I covered the whole pile with a brown tablecloth and then squinted at it for a long time. I lived with the "piano pile" for a few days and periodically stopped to stare and squint. Thankfully, my husband simply refused to acknowledge what was going on. I finally decided that a piano would look nice in that corner. When the real piano arrived, it looked great!

Now my son is old enough and kind enough to help me move stuff. Recently I got him to rearrange the entire family room. A perfect case for using graph paper since my goal was to make the ping-pong table, air hockey table, fish aquarium, huge leather sectional sofa, and a prehistoric rear-projection TV all become a harmonious arrangement worthy of being featured in Architectural Digest. After three hours of moving, shifting, and sweeping up weird stuff found under the furniture, the resulting new arrangement was hideous and I moved everything back. My skilled mother gave wise counsel: "You are trying to make this room into a cozy den. You have a cozy den already. Let the kids' room be a kids' room." I admitted defeat and forced my son to help me put everything back. At least the floors got cleaned.

Furniture Arranging Waits for No Man

Why does the "weaker" sex have the primordial urge to move heavy furniture? I know that I love it. It is the thrill of getting instant results. It is the thrill of getting something "new" for nothing. When I am in a shopping mood, the best way to overcome the buying bug is to go home and move my existing furniture. Home stagers know there is a lot of potential in shopping your own house.

Men hate moving furniture. My husband takes it one step further, he hates to see furniture moved. So I drag stuff around on my own, and he comes home from work and has a nervous breakdown. It is as if his retreat has been invaded by a warring clan. "Did you have Betty over?" he asks suspiciously. He knows two women moving furniture get really big results.

Often the furniture-moving urge comes on when I make a small home decorating purchase. Mike groans at the sight of a Home Goods bag at the door because he knows the pillow or lamp is an accurate predictor of a coming seismic shift in the living room or den. A new table lamp doesn't just fit into a room. It becomes the room's "inspiration." The room has to live up to the new lamp so everything must be rethought and reshuffled.

Did women have time to rearrange things in the old days? Maybe they were too tired after boiling lard into soap all day. But I think they did make the time. I can imagine my great-grandmother saying in a wheedling tone, "Stosh, can you just move the potbelly stove a little to the right? It will really open up the flow of the room."

My mother tells a story of being eight months pregnant and working on her hands and knees to unroll a huge new living room rug because she was tired of waiting for my father to do it. I see that this moving proclivity runs in the family.

Coming soon: Clever ways to single-handedly move an entire room of furniture

Do You See What I See?

My 87-year-old mom is a fan of HGTV. She has always followed the real-estate market and she loves home decorating. But she is hurt by the reactions of young home buyers on HGTV who complain that a house's decor is dated. Sometimes they even guffaw or scoff at a home's yellow printed wallpaper in the kitchen or the dark wood cabinets. To my mom these TV house hunters seem callous, unimaginative, and a bit spoiled. "I've lived my whole life without a walk-in closet," she sighs. "What do these newlyweds expect?"

Now admittedly, I myself would react poorly to seeing bathroom wallpaper done in foil sprinkled with 1970s-era lady bugs. On the other hand, once the world tears out every example of 1970s foil wallpaper, mark my words you will see its comeback featured in Architectural Digest as the latest in edgy sophistication.

So here is some advice for both older sellers and to younger buyers faced with a "dated" home decor:

Advice to sellers: Remember the choices you made when you first bought your home. It was exciting to pick out the furniture or decorate the front hall. Maybe twenty years later, you still enjoy those decisions. So accept that the next family will want to personalize their home too. That is why your real estate agent says to take down the family photos or artwork that is very specific to your taste. You may even be asked to remove or paint over wallpaper to neutralize it. You may be asked to take out wall-to-wall carpeting. You may think that this stripped down version of your house lacks warmth, but it leaves room for potential buyers to visualize their personal belongings in the space.

Buyers may be forgiving of older decor but they aren't forgiving of shabby elements. It makes the home appear uncared for. Even if your kitchen is old, make sure the cabinets and drawers work properly and that there is no peeling paint or obvious staining on walls or ceilings.

A special note for original owners of mid-century modern homes: The good news is that your style of home is extremely appealing to younger home buyers. They appreciate the open, airy spaces and strong architectural design. In fact, the style is so in vogue that these new enthusiasts may expect streamlined perfection in the decor. Your family's antique platform rocker in the living room could be jarring to their vision. If you own such a home, less really is more. Don't be offended if your agent suggests removing a lot of furniture, wall decorations, and rugs. The strength of your home is its architecture.

Advice to buyers: Don't fret about what is often a cosmetic spruce up. Look at the bones of the house, not the furniture. If you hate the paint colors or the wallpaper, just rationalize the work of changing it by telling yourself that you will get to know every square inch of your new home intimately through scraping and painting. If there are pricey elements that are out of date, such as the kitchen and baths, realize that the asking price likely reflects that fact. If you hate a pink bathroom, focus on the space itself, the potential for change, and the choices you will make. And don't decide to change things too quickly. You may actually come to respect those vintage pink fixtures. What goes around, comes around.

Advice to Listing Agents: Work with your older homeowner to explain that staging helps make the home appealing to the widest variety of buyers. For example, hotel decor is generally pleasant and not too specific in taste. Then it is up to the next owner to add their personality.

Lyn Spaeth, principal of Transformations, a staging company located in Lincoln, MA, also points out an important fact: Older homeowners don't realize that their home is often first viewed on photos on the internet. If the interior looks dark or cluttered, buyers won't even make an appointment for a viewing. The goals is to sell space, light, and architectural features and the photos need to highlight those three things.

Advice to Buyer Agents: Let the buyers experience the home but don't let them get hung up on criticizing things that can be easily updated. For example, point out that a dated bathroom may have good potential to be expanded or that its copper pipes are top quality and not easily replicated today. The truth is it is a buyer's market and what they want is what they can probably get. But don't misread all the young buyers. You may find that a home that reminds them of their happy childhood is exactly what they are yearning for.

Spruce Your House Up for Spring

The Spring market is in full swing and Barrett & Company agent Melanie Zwicker is also a home seller who recently put her own house on the market. Working with buyers and knowing what they are looking for when viewing homes helped her a lot when it came to deciding what work needed to be done before the house was listed. Melanie relied on professionals she trusts and has worked with in the past to help her tackle the list of projects. In a few cases, when she needed recommendations, she asked some of her fellow Barrett & Company agents for suggestions of contractors they have built relationships with.

She had wonderful experiences with the folks who did the painting, landscaping, gardening, electrical work and flooring and shared them with me to pass along to others who are getting spruced up for Spring!

Interior Painting

The whole interior of the 1,900 square foot home, including basement and cathedral ceiling, was painted by Peg Walker from Peg's Painting 978.777.4162 (recommended by Barrett agents Laura McKenna and Jeannine Taylor). Melanie said "Peg works hard, arrives early, paints fast and efficiently and is reasonably priced. She does beautiful work and it was nice to have a woman contractor in the house in the early a.m. for the past month."

Flooring

Winn from Chambers Flooring, 617.887 2338, was recommended by Bob Champey, another Barrett agent. Winn removed and disposed of ceramic tile and carpet, installed two rooms of hardwood floors and refinished one bedroom floor. According to Melanie, "The bedroom floor looks brand new and the newly installed floors are gorgeous. Winn works hard, does what he says he is going to do and is reasonably priced. He matched the finish on the new floor perfectly to the existing flooring in two adjoining rooms. It appear seamless, like it has always been hardwood."

Electrical

Billy Hutchinson, an electrician, 978.815.7014, was also recommended by Bob Champey. He has done basic electrical work for Melanie and several of her clients over the past 6 months. Melanie finds him, "...honest, reasonably priced and knowledgeable. He is also very accessible."

Exterior Painting

The entire exterior of the home was painted last summer by George Grow, 508.222.0864, who was recommended by Ann Trudeau. Melanie says "George is the calmest, most efficient contractor I have come across. He is reasonably priced with expert painting experience, is very knowledgeable and does beautiful work. He arrived every day at 7:00 a.m., was done by 3:00 and I barely noticed that he was on the property."

Trees and Lawn Maintenance

Tom Cullinane, of Cullinane Not Just Tree & Landscape, 978.833.0787, did tree work and lawn maintenance and "has done a tremendous job on my property. He is efficient, reasonably priced and a nice polite businessman. His crew is always polite as well. Tom trimmed a few very large trees this past summer to open up the appearance of my home from the street. Does great work!"

Garden Installs & Upkeep

For installation of gardens and upkeep, Melanie says her friend Fran Callahan, 978.395.1097, "cannot be beat. Fran prides herself on organic gardening. She has installed gardens on the entire perimeter of my home over the past 5 years. She can plan, install and upkeep gardens. She works hard, is reasonably priced and is as strong as most men. She can easily spread 7 yards of mulch in a day while maintaining a garden."

Melanie admires and appreciates these contractors because "they are are good at what they do and they are honest, hard working individuals." With their help, along with staging support from the Barrett & Company Designed to Sell team, the property is well on its way to a quick closing.