Barrett Sotheby's International Realty Logo

Homeowner Tips

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Fall Home Maintenance TipsThe arrival of fall means many things, one of which being that we are one season closer to winter. It’s important to enjoy the fall season while it’s here, but it’s also important to get your home ready for winter’s harsh conditions. Here are some things you can do on the weekends in the fall to make sure you and your home are prepared come winter.

Seal Gaps

You’re not the only one who wants to hunker down inside for the winter; wild critters will seek out the warmth of your home too, so make sure there are no gaps, holes, or tears in your home. It’s probably a good idea to have a professional come in and seal your house, not just to keep animals and cold air out, but keep warm air in. 

Do Some Proactive Landscaping

Although you might not think, fall is actually the perfect time to think about how you want your garden to look come springtime. Planting spring-blooming bulbs and fertilizing and reseeding your lawn is the perfect activity for a cool fall day - their roots will grow deeper into the ground over the winter and they will emerge in the spring, giving you a lush and plentiful lawn to start off the season. Another proactive measure you can take is pruning trees and bushes to encourage growth while also pruning any branches that may be likely to fall on your house or power lines once the snow has fallen. 

Check Heating Systems

Fall is the perfect time to make sure your heating system is working properly before it gets too cold - you don’t want to be stuck with a broken heater on the morning after the first snowfall. This could involve changing the filter, cleaning out your air ducts and/or chimney, and having a professional check for efficiency. It could also be beneficial to consider switching to a green heating system, like a heat pump, that will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint in the long run. 

Drain Hoses and Outdoor Water Systems

As we know, water freezing in the winter can cause a lot of pipe damage. To avoid this, make sure you shut off the water to any outdoor faucets or water systems you have. Drain your garden hose and store it inside until the spring, and make sure the water is turned off at the source. 

Do a Deep Clean

The change of season is always a good excuse to give your house a good clean. This means doing all the nitty gritty stuff that you wouldn’t do regularly, like scrubbing grout from tiles, cleaning the inside of kitchen appliances, cleaning light fixtures, and washing the walls and floors. If you feel overwhelmed at the prospect of cleaning your whole house, ask a friend to help, or start out by cleaning one room. You’ll thank yourself later when you have the rest of the winter to relax in your spotless home.

If you're thinking about buying or selling a home in Greater Boston, contact Barrett Sotheby's International Realty today.

How to Keep Your Home Cool & Electric Bill Low This Summer

Grilling OutsideHere are some great ways to keep your home cool this summer without increasing your air conditioning bill.

Use Window Coverings

If you have west facing windows, close the blinds in the afternoons, which is usually the hottest part of the day. Or, at least tilt them upwards so they prevent heat from pouring through the windows. Direct sunlight can increase the temperature inside your home. Reflective window panels are another great option.

Get a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat can help you save on energy costs. You can preset the thermostat to reduce the temperature by a few degrees during the hottest part of the day, so it stays nice and cool without wasting energy all day long. You won’t need to worry about turning the thermostat up when you leave and down when you get home either.

Install Ceiling Fans

Ceiling fans are great because moving air makes you feel cooler. It’s important to know that the blades should rotate counterclockwise so they push the cooler air down. You can also turn on the exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen to help move the warm air outside your home. 

Open Windows at Night

Enjoy the summer breeze flowing through your home by opening the windows in the evening. This also gives the humid air in your home a chance to flow outside. The cool night air will circulate while you sleep so you can get a fresh, cool start in the morning. 

Outdoor Grilling

The oven and other kitchen appliances can really heat up your home. Unless you can cook during the coolest part of the day, get outside and show off your grilling skills. There are lots of delicious meals you can grill. This is a great way to spend quality time outdoors with your family and keep your home cool at the same time.

Turn Off Lights and Electronics

Keep the lights and electronics turned off when you aren’t using them. The less heat produced by light bulbs and electronics inside your home will result in cooler temperatures.

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home in the Boston area, contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty. We’re ready to help you. Start your home search here.

 

Tips for Working From Home

Work From Home TipsAs we’re setting into the new normal, many of us continue to work from home. This creates a new level of distractions that were not dealt with in an office setting. We’ve compiled our favorites tips to successfully work from home. 

Have a Defined Work Space & Set Boundaries

Separating work from home is essential. Create a space in your home, whether it be a home office or a designated area for your desk. Once you’ve defined the space, establish etiquette for when you’re in there. If your area has a door, shut the door when you’re on a call, ask anyone in the house to knock on the door to see if you’re available and able to chat. 

Find a Good Set of Headphones & Use Them

Being home means exposure to many different noises, such as the voices or phone calls of the people around you. Having a good set of noise-canceling headphones is life-saving. Give a set to everyone who might be in school or working around you. Not only will they cancel out whatever people are listening to, but you’ll also be able to hear any phone calls with clarity. 

Maintain Regular Hours

Having a routine is important. Set a schedule and stick to it. Start and end your day at the same time every day. With that being said, one of the great benefits of working from home is the flexibility. It’s usually okay to start or end your day early if that’s what you need to do. Be sure to work in breaks throughout the day. At an office space, you would find time to talk with your coworkers and grab a coffee. Continue to take this time away from the computer by going on a walk. 

Socialize with Coworkers and Be Heard at Meetings

We’re all pros at online meetings and chat services by now. Be sure that you have your camera on when in a meeting and speak up so your coworkers can hear you. Having a presence in the office is easy, but it is a bit harder while on video calls so make sure to articulate your thoughts and ideas. 


Questions about real estate in the Greater Boston area? Check out our latest listings or contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty!

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Gutters on Home

Hello, spring! You’ve put away your winter coats and brought out the cleaning supplies in preparation for the spring season. Here’s a handy checklist to make sure the exterior of your home is ready for the beautiful flowering season. Enjoy the wonderful outdoors with warmer weather and more daylight hours while taking care of your home at the same time.

Caulk, Seals, and Trim

It won’t take long to look around your doors and windows to see if the caulk, seals, or trim needs to be resealed, repaired, or replaced. This is an easy but important fix to help insulate your home. It’s well worth it!

Exterior Paint

Check the exterior of your home for any cracked or peeling paint. If you scrape it off and apply a fresh coat, it will protect the wood and keep it from rotting. This can prolong the need for repainting the entire exterior of your home.

Roof

Your roof protects your home's interior, so it's important to know if there are any missing or damaged shingles. If so, you’ll want to replace or repair them as soon as possible. If you’re not sure what to look for, or if you aren’t comfortable climbing up on the roof, you can hire a professional to inspect it and make some recommendations. 

Gutters

To help your gutters do their job, it’s a good idea to clean out any leaves and debris and make sure the downspouts are angled away from your home’s foundation. If you see any holes, use some caulking to prevent leaks. Dirty gutters don’t work efficiently or drain properly.

Driveways and Walkways

This is a great time to repair any cracks in your driveway and walkways. Smaller cracks are usually easier and less expensive to repair, and if you fix these right away, you could prevent them from becoming bigger problems.

Soil

Sprinkle some extra soil to level out any low areas next to your foundation or in your yard to help protect your foundation, minimize insects, and reduce flooding caused by heavy rains. You may even want to plant some pretty spring flowers while you’re at it!

Air Conditioner

Spring is the perfect time to hire a professional for a preseason cleaning and service for your outside air conditioning system. This will help your system operate more efficiently during the warm months and it may even lower your electric bill. 

If you have any questions about buying or selling a home, contact Barrett Sotheby’s International Realty today! We live, work, and play in Greater Boston and we're here to help you with your next real estate transaction. 

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!

Hungry for Inspiration and Insight? Recipes for any dietary restriction or preference this holiday!

There are so many things to look forward to throughout the last few months of the year. Holidays galore, time with friends and family, and often tremendous meals to gather around.

For some, these meals pose difficulty as they navigate traditions that do not match their eating habits. You may find yourself in this situation, or on the other end cooking for diets you do not have much experience with. No matter if it's a dietary restriction for health, religious reasons, or simply a lifestyle you (or your guests) adhere to, accommodating everyone around the holiday table is an important element to plan for and can really make your house feel like home.

We've asked our agents' what their favorites for the holidays are and sprinkled in a few links to resources that might help you plan your meals!

For those following a low-fiber or low-residue diet, Anna Travias has a beautiful go-to meal that will leave your taste buds wanting more and your stomach happy as can be. Travias says, “My holiday tried and true favorite is lemon-garlic roasted leg of lamb with potatoes, a genuine Greek salad which (shocker) contains no lettuce, and tzatziki dipping sauce.”

After hearing about the meal Travias offers, we looked into additional gastro-friendly Thanksgiving sides.

Laura McKenna offers vegetarian and vegan options at her holidays. McKenna shared, "My husband makes a simple black beans and rice with salsa on the side for our vegetarian guests. It's real yummy, and the meat eaters gravitate to it as well!" 

Plant-based options are a great addition to any meal, as well. Not only do they offer choices for your guests who may want them, but they also often accommodate many other health-related diets as well. Martha Stewart has a whole plan for Vegan Thanksgiving, with lots of sides, and Minimalist Baker has some great "mains" that won't leave you asking where the Turkey is! 

For desert, Sheena Santos has a go-to, "an amazing chocolate torte that is gluten free but everyone (gluten free or not) loves."

For those who need (or want!) to eat gluten free, these options are simple and sound delicious, too.

Of course, these suggestions are not an exhaustive list. There are many other restrictions your guests may have in their diets. When it comes down to it, the real ingredients for the holidays are understanding, compassion, and openness to discuss what others may need and enjoy! 

Autumn Holiday Decor Tips

Decorating as the weather gets cooler is all about seeping in the warmth that remains. New colors emerge, nature presents new elements for us to enjoy, the warmth of our friends and family become even more prevalent, and a throw blanket always helps too! Here are the trends we’re observing this autumn that might help bring some festivity to your daily life.

Elements from Nature

As the leaves change colors, we often get the urge to change things, too. Think warm red, orange, and brown around your home. If you’re not DIY inclined, these are easy to incorporate in accent features.  

Looking forward to Thanksgiving, pulling natural elements into your dining room table brings the feel of autumn directly to you. Acorns, pinecones, and even scattered branches can draw a rustic element into your décor. Just be sure to do your research first and preserve your materials so you don’t also add some pests to your home!

Pumpkins

When it comes to fall, pumpkins are everywhere! We can’t emphasize their influence enough… glass pumpkins, painted pumpkins, pumpkins covered in fabric or washi tape, natural pumpkins, the list goes on in the décor category. Not only is this a simple add in to your space, but it also leaves opportunity for you to engage in the creation of your aesthetic. As a bonus for those who like to mix it up each year, if you purchase the right kind, these decorative pieces are even compostable!

Farmhouse

Taking a note from the farmhouse style dried stalks, hay, and wreathes are a great addition to fall decorations that bring the outdoors in yet again. Antiques and rustic pieces are great swaps for daily use or as accent pieces and provide a nice day trip to second hand, consignment, and antique shops to discover your own personal style. Incorporate some marigolds and mums and you’re ready for a fall festival in your own home!

A local favorite for décor and gifts in Concord, MA, called Nestings is featured in the image above.

For more, visit our Fall Decorations board on Pinterest.

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!

Five Quick Back to School Tips

Back to school is a time full of excitement and anticipation! As with any new season, there is also a lot of adjustment. Here are some quick tips to make your back to school season a breeze. 

Create a Homework Caddy

We’re all familiar with the idea of a cut-out space designated for homework and task completion. For those with kids who like to mix it up, a homework caddy provides the perfect middle ground. The materials are the same, but the location can change to add new focus and light to the subject matter. Fill a basket with this year’s requirements and get to work!

Plan Go-To Lunches

We know it’s great to mix it up but having some go-to lunches to pack in a snap helps on those days when time seems to get away from us! Healthy non-perishables that can be quickly added to your reusable containers are perfect. Humus, crackers, cut up veggies, some boiled eggs, and grab-and-go fruit are all quick and easy solutions, too.

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

Life gets busy fast! To make sure everyone is on the same page, work together and plan how you’ll keep a schedule maintained. There are so many solutions to get this done that you’re sure to find one that works for you, from online calendars, to white boards, to good old physical calendars, there’s a planner for us all.

Take Care of You

Setting a small ritual for yourself can help get each day off to a great start. Quick face mask? Walk the dog before the kids get up? Even a short breathing exercise if you have a couple of minutes can help ease tension and re-focus for the day ahead.

Outsource

When things pile up and you need a second set of hands, you can always outsource! There are automated systems for so much, delivery for everything under the sun, sitters for your kids and pets, and professionals for maintenance and advice on your home.

No matter the task, you’ve got this back to school season covered!