Beginners Guide: Finding a New Home

You’ve just made the decision to buy your first house. It’s a scary and daunting task ahead of you. One which will take up a lot of your thinking time, even when you’re supposed to be asleep.

It’s extremely easy to make mistakes when you buy your first home, especially during the preliminary stages of the buying process. You can easily avoid the hassle of a bad purchase though, simply by gaining some of the knowledge other first time buyers don’t have.

Research Finding a New Home

Do as much research as you can about the properties you are looking at, the real estate company you are putting your trust in, the kinds of home insurance you could, and the process of buying a house. The more you know, the less likely it is you’ll be taken for a ride. Know as much as you can before you bring money into the mix.

Prepare for a Wait in Finding a New Home

You need to understand that your dream home isn’t going to pop out of nowhere for you. The home purchasing process is a time consuming thing, and you will probably look at hundreds of houses before you settle on placing an offer on one. In other words, don’t settle for the first house you like just because you want the process over with – Keep your options open and stay persistent.

Read Before You Sign Real Estate Contracts

It’s extremely important you read all documentation thoroughly and understand every last detail before you sign anything. If you are unsure about a clause, word, expression etc, and you need clarification, you are well within your rights to ask for it. If you are still unsure, seek guidance from a professional.

What New Home Can You Afford?

Bear in mind your budget and stick with it. There’s nothing worse than a crippling mortgage on your first house. Be sensible and realistic about what you can feasibly afford to pay off over the next few years, or you could end up losing money. Ideally a mortgage shouldn’t take up more than 36% of your total income.

Fire Safety Tips for Your Boston Home

When at home all kinds of accidents can happen, especially fire accidents and being prepared to counter such accidents will ensure you can save your life and your property.

Fire is the most destructive force that can cause irreparable damage when it occurs. There are certain mechanisms that can be put in place to ensure that when fire strikes you do not suffer total loss and you can be able to manage in the shortest time possible.

Below are some tips that will help you stay alive in case of a fire outbreak and help you save your property.

Install smoke alarms, at times before a fire breaks out smoke comes out first and being able to detect it will help you put it off or call for help. The smoke alarm should be installed away from the air vents.

Have an escape plan: this means you find a place or an extra door in your house where you can use as an emergency exit. Have a two way doorway in your house so that if one is blocked you can use the other one. Your escape plan should be known to your members to avoid confusion. Another tip which is useful is to ensure that your window bars and glass are breakable or can be removed.

Get a fire extinguisher gas canister and always keep it full and ready for any eventuality. Make sure people in your family know how to use it.

Always have a designated place to smoke and never smoke in bed because you might fall asleep and light up the whole house. On your electrical appliances make sure they are not overloaded and do not leave naked wires lying around. Cooking appliances should be kept away from clothes or any other material that can catch fire. And if by accident there are is fires make sure you remain calm and avoid panic. The minute you panic then you risk injuring yourself and others.

When moving to the nearest exit you should lie low under the smoke to avoid chocking and immediately call for help. Candles have been the major cause of fire in many households, when using a candle makes sure you put it far away from materials that can catch fire and put them off as soon as you are done using them. Make sure you put the candle in a stable holder and in an open space away from fabric and other combustible materials.

Caring out of periodic inspection by the fire department will help you spot any fire hazards. The department of fire will come and look at your house and if they find a defect that may cause fire they will help you fix it. It would be very helpful if you can insure your house from fire and if by accident you lose your belonging from fire you can have them replaced. Another thing you should also consider is putting the automatic sprinkler and when they detect smoke or a rise in temperature they automatically sprinkle water. Putting a fire alarm is also beneficial if you have a big house because you will be able to warm the rest of your family members quickly.

Follow these simple tips and you might save your life and belongings.

Boston Financial District Broadluxe Condo Resale Activity Slows

Stuart St James has released the 2012 Broadluxe Condo Sales Report. The report highlights the fact that while price per square foot in the 44-unit loft style building has gone up over the past year, sales velocity of resale units has gone down.

In 2012, only two units in the Boston Financial District condo development sold, half the total from the previous year. Nonetheless, owners continue to see appreciation in price per square foot, currently at $593 per foot. Based on the results of the 2008 condo auction at Broadluxe, where buyers fetched condos at an average of $496 per square foot, auction buyers have realized an approximate 20% gain on their initial investment.

At present, no units are for sale at Broadluxe, while there is a single unit for rent – see all Broadluxe Boston condos for sale and rent.

Reverse Mortgage Senior Citizen Information

For many seniors who want to gain a little extra spending money, a reverse mortgage can be the answer. While some seniors choose to go this route in order to pay their regular living expenses, others obtain a reverse mortgage so they can cover special expenses. Whatever the reason, homeowners over the age of 62 should certainly take the time to learn more about reverse mortgages so they can determine if this loan option is right for them.

What is a Reverse Mortgage?

A reverse mortgage is a special type of mortgage that is only available to homeowners who are 62-years-old or older. “Unlike other federally-insured mortgages, you do not make payments when you obtain a reverse mortgage,” explains Brian Kinkade. Rather, you are only required to pay your taxes and your homeowner’s insurance while you receive payments or a lump sum payment from the lender. If you already have a mortgage on your property, the old mortgage will be paid off when the new reverse mortgage is put in place. You are then free to use the money in whatever way you wish.

Why Should I Get a Reverse Mortgage?

While some seniors choose to obtain a reverse mortgage simply so they can cover their regular living expenses, there are several other reasons to consider obtaining this type of loan. Here are a few suggestions:

Have input into how your heirs spend their inheritance – with a reverse mortgage, you can give your kids and your grandkids their inheritance before you pass away. Not only does this allow you to have more say in how it is spent, it also allows you to see them enjoy the money while you are still around.

Pamper yourself – with the help of a reverse mortgage, you can tap into your home’s equity so you can live your golden years to their fullest. Use the money to take a dream vacation or to purchase that car you have always wanted to own.

Take care of health needs – some seniors are concerned about rising health costs and how they will cover those expenses. A reverse mortgage loan can give you the money you need to meet your long-term health care needs. The money you get from your loan may be used to pay for insurance coverage or to actually cover the cost of long-term healthcare.

Get out of financial trouble – if you are in financial trouble that threatens to put you into foreclosure, a reverse mortgage can help you get out of trouble. Since reverse mortgages have no credit requirements, you can still get a reverse mortgage even if you are in foreclosure or you have just completed a bankruptcy.

How Can I Get a Reverse Mortgage?

To get a reverse mortgage, simply consult your favorite lending institution. You should be aware, however, that the government has made it mandatory for seniors to complete independent reverse mortgage counseling before they can obtain one of these loans. This mandate was put in place in order to help protect seniors from predatory lending practices.

Furniture Staging Questions

Whether a necessary move arrives suddenly or you’ve got months to prepare, it’s always a possibility that you’ll have to move on to your next location before your previous home sells. The same sort of scenario can occur when moving an elderly loved one to be closer to you or to an assisted living facility.

If your house hasn’t sold for what you’d hoped in its time on the market (with you still in it), it’s going to be even more difficult to sell when it’s empty (unless you’ve been showing your house with it full of clutter or packing boxes — bad ideas, both!)

Tasteful furniture makes a house feel like a ‘home,’ and it’s wise to show your house with it furnished. But if you’re moving, do you have enough to leave behind to stage your old house that’s still on the market? And how do you decide what comes with you now and what goes?

First of all, there’s no need repeating what’s already been said on this blog. To stage your house, begin with the deep clean process detailed in this Boston Real Estate Observer post from last January.

Now you’re ready to decide what furniture will come with you to your new home and what will stay behind while the old house sells.

  1. Decide Which Items You’re Getting Rid of Forever
  2. A move is an excellent opportunity to take inventory of your belongings and get rid of what you no longer love or need. Chances are, some of your furniture won’t ever be making the trip to your new house. If you have couches, chairs or beds that are beat up and well-worn, go ahead and get them out of the house. You can sell them in the classifieds or call your local thrift store to come pick them up (don’t forget that you get a tax write-off for your donation).

    Are there some items you don’t want anymore, but that are still in excellent condition? Mark these with a red (or any consistent color) in an inconspicuous but obvious place. If you’re not around when the moving company comes to retrieve the rest of your furniture after the house sells, they’ll know that the items with the red sticker can stay to be picked up by the thrift store.

  3. Figure Out What You Need
  4. There’s no point in buying a new bed when you get to your new home if you want to keep your old one after the house sells. Choose another color sticker and mark the items in your house that you’ll take with you on your initial move. This should be a basic list that gives you enough to comfortably get by until your first home sells and your furniture arrives. If you have a small house with only one bedroom, it may even be worth sleeping on an inflatable mattress for a month in order to keep your old house looking furnished.

  5. Choose Your Show Items
  6. Generally, you’ll want to leave your nicest furniture in the staged house. The perception by potential buyers that a person with good taste who cares about their home lived there previously can make a difference in a closed sale and its price, so consider the small sacrifice of temporarily leaving furniture behind as an investment.

    Although you don’t have to leave each room decorated to the brim, don’t leave any rooms empty. When staging, however, less is more. A few choice items of furniture show off a room’s potential uses, but too many can clutter the room and make it feel smaller. The trick is to find a balance between ‘look how nice this room can be’ and ‘look how spacious this room is.’

    Save your bulky furniture for the big rooms. A small bedroom should have a small bed — don’t fill it with a king and leave no floor space! Always leave clear paths for walking, and generally leave the middle of each room open to show off its size.

    During your showing process, you may even be able to sell some furniture that you didn’t plan to bring with you. Choose a third color sticker for any items that you’re willing to include in the sale price of the house. Maybe that old dresser will seal the deal!

Moving is inherently stressful, especially when you’re forced to leave furniture behind to stage your home. Those items serve a purpose, however, and will help you to get the maximum value out of your property. Even if you’re forced to move quickly, a few hours of planning what stays and what goes before the movers show up will ease the packing tension exponentially.

In his role in the self storage industry, Tim Eyre helps customers care for their cherished belongings that must be put in storage. Tim regularly visits his facilities including a Waltham self storage center. Extra Space recently launched the Extra Space Storage Blog, for which Tim writes on a regular basis.

Examples of How to De-clutter Your Home

Any family that lives in a particular house for a particular period of time will realize how easy it is to end up with a messy house. Other than all the things that have to be organized and all the things that are probably strewn around your floor, chances are you have even more things stuffed in your cupboards waiting to be fixed. Although this is may be a typical way of life for you, it doesn’t do much if you are trying to sell your Golden Gate Estates house (one of the markets I serve) or if you are planning to have guests over.

Although it may seem like a huge task and it is, de-cluttering your house can be relatively easy if you know how to do it right. Although there are a lot of tasks that you can do, there are three ways in which you can definitely make some headway when trying to de-clutter. Make sure you take note of them and use them well.

  1. Segregate your home into segments – Every area in the home has its own set of typical clutter. Regardless of whether you live in a one bedroom apartment or you live in a studio apartment, you should make sure to segregate every area in your home for the clutter. For example, you can segregate by rooms or you can segregate even further by area. If you have a particularly large living room for example, you can segregate it by mantle, television area and so on. If not you can segregate by living room, dining room and so on. Segregating your home will make it easier to sort as you progress with de-cluttering. Make sure any items you find that don’t belong in one area are moved to another.
  2. Create a checklist of thing to throw away, give away or keep – Once you have segregated your home, you can create a list of items which you need as well as items that you don’t. Having a checklist will remind you of the things which you will need to throw away or set aside. In addition, writing them down will ensure that you remember whether or not you have completed the task you are planning to do with the item concerned. This is essential for the next step.
  3. Carry a set of two containers – Once you have created your checklist move around your home with three containers corresponding to the things to throw away and give away on your checklist of items. Place all the things to throw away or give in each container. This is psychological too because it prevents you from seeing items which you might be attached to but shouldn’t be keeping. This way you can forget that you are giving them away. Once you are done with your clearing you can give yourself a little treat by taking one item out of the giveaway pile.

De-cluttering your house isn’t just an art, it is also a skill. The more often you do it, the more you will find that you are on top of the amount of mess you are making. Remember, in order to keep your house uncluttered, every time you buy something you should get rid of something to ensure your things don’t pile up. As you progress, you will also find that it will get easier and easier and will eventually become a habit.

Searching for Real Estate Online

Compared to ten years ago, it’s now far easier to search for real estate online.

Whether you want to find a commercial or residential place to rent or own, there are literately thousands of websites to search and find a property that meets your personal search criteria. You can even redefine your search based on the exact location where you need one. There are many search engines that can help you find one. And should you know the company which you want to work with in getting you the property you like, you can easily find information online about them if they have a website and check for yourself the services they offer. These companies can offer local and even international assistance in searching for different properties. And there are also various governing bodies who can give you access to records online for various properties which may be for sale or for rent in different locations. You can double check for the real owners of the properties that you are interested in. You can even verify the validity of the information you get from various brokers or agents.

For instance, you can check Boston homes that you are interested in complete with pictures, maps and other pertinent details online. In fact, you can compare prices of properties in one location as well. You have more options to choose from and compare with your physical and financial requirements. You can get a better idea as well regarding its community and the type of people who can be your possible customer or neighbour. The pictures can help you assess the property right away without having to go on a tripping and check them yourself. You can also locate them on a map online. You can see right away the closest landmarks and establishments which may be important to you for business or residential purposes. In the same way, you can check through pictures alone if it is in fact your dream business establishment or dream house. You do not need to spend on fuel and get there yourself. You save on money, time and effort and still get the same results.

And finally, you can also get all the information you need about the agent and brokers of such properties. You can deal with them online and discuss all your requirements which have to be met to finally close the deal. You can also have copies of property titles or deed of sale scanned and emailed to you for verification purposes. There is no waiting time needed. And if necessary, you can get their contact information online too and chat or talk to them right away. Information gathering is definitely faster online and when it comes to searching for property, you need worry about time constraints anymore. If you need to find one right away then all you need is a computer or a laptop and an internet connection. And of course, you should know how to refine your search to be able to find what you have been looking for. You can even email it right away to any business partner, spouse or family member who would need to decide as well in renting or buying the property. And of course, online they can double check it at their own schedules and see for themselves if the property you are talking about matches with their expectations as well.

More Advertising – Not the Answer to Selling Your Home

Before we had the internet, things were done differently. If you needed to advertise your home for sale, all you needed to do is place an advert in the newspaper with contacts so interested buyers could call and inquire about the home, the location, price, the condition of the home and other intriguing issues that have to be verified before a sale can take place. This is still done by people who do not have the internet.

Today, the internet has simplified the way things are done and more advertising is not the answer to selling your home or other property. When a realtor displays your home on a website a lot of information is provided online. Interested buyers can view the house online and decide if that is what they are looking for. They see the exterior and the interior view of the house in full color. The living room, kitchen, dining, bathrooms and bedrooms are all displayed showing the floor, walls, ceiling, doors, windows and many other features. The garage doors, entrances, corridors, fireplace, basement and roofing are displayed to give the viewer a complete view of the home.

The exterior walls, roofing, doors and the landscaping is shown including flowers, shrubs, grass and trees and if this is someone’s dream home they will spot it right away and crave to see it and finalize the deal. That is why the internet is so effective in marketing and selling homes and other properties. The buyer will spot what they want to buy and take interest in those homes they like right away. Decisions are made faster than when they see a home on a newspaper or magazine and have to travel all the way before they make a decision. On the internet the buyer can take an online tour around the house in the comfort of their home or office without spending money on fuel to travel from one home to another. The internet saves the money and time for the buyer and seller limiting their inquiries to only the homes (for the buyer) and the buyers (for the seller) who are interested in that property.

If you want to sell your home just know that these days, newspapers rarely sell homes. The internet is a faster and more efficient seller of homes to a wider audience (even overseas), than local newspapers.

By: Marc Rasmussen – Sarasota homes

83 West Brookline South End Condos

If you’re in the market for a 2 bedroom home in Boston’s South End, take a moment to look at the development at 83 West Brookline, a gut rehab with all of the bells and whistles. The building is in close proximity to Blackstone Park and all of the great shopping and dining that come with living in the South End. The condos themselves are beautiful. They boast hardwood flooring throughout, skylights, recessed lighting, central A/C, in unit washer and dryer, intercom, solid wood custom kitchen cabinets, high-end stainless steel appliances (Kitchen Aid, Bosh, and LG), gas cooking, granite counter tops, and fabulous views of the Boston skyline (from the penthouse unit).

South End Condo One Bedroom

83 West Brookline Condo Development Market Update

While Unit 2 at 83 West Brookline is currently under agreement and no longer on the market, two (2) condos do remain for sale at this South End property. The 2 bedroom 1.5 bath penthouse and the 2 bedroom 1.5 bath parlor level duplex are still available and priced aggressively. The duplex has undergone an $80,000.00 price reduction. After coming to market with a list price of $695,000, the condo is currently being offered at $615,000. In terms of price per square foot, this unit is $541.85/square foot. The penthouse has also undergone a price drop; from $765,000 to $699,000 ($583.96/square foot). With both units dipping below the $600/square foot threshold, it is anticipated that these units will come under agreement rather quickly.

Real Estate Finally Logs on to Facebook

Any start-up founded in 2008 or after would be remiss without plotting an online social media marketing course that included Facebook. But in practical implementation terms, are Facebook or Twitter legitimate and earnest ways to drive exposure to your brand? With significant search engine results page (SERP) related penalties being paid in the past by firms who went online and did what all their peers were doing, trying to drive content creation and links, but doing it in an unnatural and manipulative way, any firm has to ask themselves whether they’re poking and tweeting for the right reasons.

What’s the true value of social media in real estate for buyers and sellers, the real essence of it? For instance, as a seller, am I getting any real value out of having an Agent tweet about my listing, or if my Broker has a Facebook page, are they going to sell my house faster? If Brokers are out there trying to do the right things for the right reasons, are social media websites and real estate a value producing combination, or are they just a necessary evil for Brokers who are trying to get ahead in SERPs?

While worth considering, perhaps these are deeper and more thought provoking questions than what we want to cover in this particular article. But currently with more than 800 million active users and more than 50% of those users logging on in any given day, Facebook is a formidable reality that, rather than being taken advantage of for the benefit of SERPs or the like, a firm must make part of their standard operating procedures. And for that reason, we recently implemented Facebook login at Stuart St James.

Stuart St James ( is a growing Boston real estate brokerage and Facebook login is a feature function that we recently incorporated into our flagship website. Facebook login was developed by our real estate web design & search partner, Displet, and the feature allows users to register or login to our site using their Facebook credentials. Centered on the principal that when real estate buyers and sellers are online, there’s a good chance that they are logged on to Facebook, the Facebook login feature is a technology advancement that makes the home search process more seamless, simple, and efficient by allowing users to leverage their already known and memorized Facebook credentials to setup an account on our site.

At this moment, as far as we know, we’re the only Boston real estate brokerage that offers this convenient Facebook login technology. That badge of honor is surely not going to last. Much like in 2006 when a site like Boston Condo Guy was the forerunner in bringing Google map-based search to the Boston market, the feature function was soon replicated by other brokerages and is now commonplace across real estate related websites.

So rather than focusing on SERPs and how to leverage social media, even with shielding yourself from those “wrong reasons”, we’re trying to keep it simple, focusing on rolling out simple and intuitive technology that ultimately drives a better real estate experience for buyers, sellers, renters, and developers.