Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wake Up Call

Today my furnice kicked in for the first time this year.For me this a sign that winter is just around the corner and its time to get my house ready for the cold weather. Usually the first thing I do is get my furnice tuned up.The tune up helps it run more efficiently,use less fuel and save on maintance. After that,I get the storm windows out and ready to be put on. The next step is getting my garden ready for the winter. Usually this means doing my final transpalnting of plant and mulching. This allows me to fill in the gaps in my garden so it will look better in the spring. Mulch helps to retain water in the ground and prevents the newly planted material from heaving. Most importantly,its a good time to prune the plants.It helps them look better and creates better growth in the spring.Latter on in the year,I will take all of the leaves and dead material from my plants and add it into my compost heap. I can use the material from my compost heap as mulch and fertalizer. It will help create a cleaner and healthier garden Most inportantly,I make sure that all of my gutters are clean and in good shape. This helps prevent water and melting snow from the roof to flow into the ground. Lastly,I drain most of the water from my rain barrel out. I would hate to see it burst when the water turn into ice. These chore are a lot of work,but will help save money, make your house more comfortable.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Preparing for The Winter

The first week of August is usually viewed as a time for summer vacation,yard work and possibly getting the children ready for the upcoming school year.However,many people also view this time as a great time to start preparing the house foe the winter time. Many of this work can include weeding the flower beds,pruning trees and bushes or general yard work. However its important to start many of the chores related to upkeeping the house. Painting the outside of the house(if needed) and repointing brick and stone work is best done before the weather starts to get too cold. Its also a good time to make sure that the storm windows are in good repair and ready to help keep oy the cold winter air. Late summer,early fall is also a good time to start tuning up and cleaning your heating system. While this is an expence, this work will help extend the life span of this system and help lower fuel consumption. Also,it might be a good time to have a home energy assement for your house offered by programs such as Mass Save. This program offered by the utilty company will provide the home owner an assesment of their home and free CFLs,water saving shower heads and a thermostat. These free tools if used correctly can save costs associated with water,electric and fuel costs. Many home owners will also receive insulation and air sealing at greatly reduced prices. This work can help reduce heating costs and help the house feel comfortable. Aside from saving money on heating and cooling expences, this work will help increase the value of your house. Since many people are involved with other things during the summer time, its easier to get an appointment for a free evaluation

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thoughts on the Real Estate Market

Its the middle of the summer and most of us are thinking about going to the beach or taking a fun trip during our summer break. As a Realtor,my thoughts are taking me in the same direction,but summer time is one of the peak work periods for me. Home buyers have more free time during the summer months to look at homes to buy and do the work needed to purchase a property and make the big move into their home. We are in an interesting time to purchase a home. Home prices are off their highs that we saw 5-6 years ago but appear to be rising. While interest rates for a 30 year fixed mortage have risen to a little bit over 4%, they are well below the 8% rate that I saw 21 years ago at the start of my real estate career. The number of distressed properties(Short sales and foreclosed) have decreased and fewer people are selling their homes for a loss.The number of homes for sale seem to be higher than we saw during the spring time and buyers do not have the rushed feeling we saw a few months ago. It is my feeling that we have seen the bottom of the real estate market but still have a ways to go before home prices are no longer affordable. In the near future,its unlikely that we will see a quick rise in home prices that were seen in the 2000-2008 time frame. However,if people are looking to live in their homes long term, they will see a modest rise in their home values. While there are many indications that its a good time to purchase a home,the timing of purchasing a home is an individual matter. Home ownership is a major commitment. Having the finances needed to purchase and maintain the home are key to the process. Its also important to learn about the home buying process by talking to a Realtor and/or taking a first time home class.Unlike renting an apartment,home ownership needs to be viewed as a long term commitment. Home ownership incorporates a major financial commitment with a place to live. While the indicators are pointing to the buy sign, the buy side is clearly dictated to individual timing

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Keeping Cool In The Summer

Many of us have taken steps in the winter time to help keep our heating costs diwn by using tools such as programable thermostats and keeping our heating systems tuned up.However,most of us do not realize that summer time in New England is another period where we spend a lot of money keeping our homes cool. Most of this money is spent running air conditioning units during the summer time.While this is helpful,many people have switched to using ceil fans as an energy saving alternative.Creating a draft in your home by keeping windows open(not while using the ac) helps vent out the warm air. Keeping blinds and window shades closed mid day will block out the heat created by the sun. Shading the ac units and the roof with trees are also great passive means to help prevent your house from the suns heating rays. Summer can also be a great time to take advantage of the free energy audit and other services offered by the Mass Save Program ( if you are going to purchase air conditioning units and other appliances,look for ones that are Energy Star Rated. They tend to have lower energy useage than other appliances and may come with a rebate. In any event try to keep cool during the summer

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Changes in the Real Estate Market

One of the most frequently asked questions for a Realtor is "How is the Real Estate Market?" I realize that it may sound trite,but it really depends on the area.Recent reports indicate that prices in Phoenix have increased over 50% while prices in Metro Boston is increased a mere 12% over the last year.Does that mean that the Phoenix Market is more attractive than the Boston based market? Like any other question,the answer is relative. Its more inportabt to look at over all price changes. In Phoenix,prices dropped more quickly than Bostons and the upward price adjustment simply responding to market trends. Sharp price increases or declines are key to your plans to hold the property. For an investor or person(s) looking on the short term horizon, price swings paly a much more critical role than somebody holding a home for the long term. While its always nice to be able to purchase a home when prices are relatively low, long term home owners are in a much better position to ride out the swing in prices. Homes are a financial investment as well as an investment in your future. On one hand,a home provides shelter and a place to invite friends to visit. On the other hand,its inportant to realize that home ownership is a finacial investment. Having the financial resources to purchase the home and ability to maintain it( mortgage plus operating expences such as heating,utility and maintance costs) is key to purchasing a home. Each person(s) plan to buy a home should be based on current market conditions, planned length of ownership and ability to purchase the home

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Real Estate Market

By many accounts,we have already entered whats known as the spring market for real estate sales. While there is no official start or end of this market,this period is when most homes are marketed for sale and the lions share of home sales occur.In Metro Boston,we have noticed an increased number of buyers at our open homes and offers being made on them.In fact,for the last few months, we have seen numerous offers on homes being made on the properties. While this is normal for this time of year,there are a number of differences between this year and the same time period in 2012. The National Association of Realtors and Banker and Tradesman are reporting that prices have been rising in Metro Boston. This is largely due to the limited number of homes for sale including a reduced number of foreclosed upon homes or short sales. This has lead to a shift from a buyers market to a sellers market. Low interest rates with the expectation that rates will rise in the not to distant future has added to this trend. In order to take advantage of the fact that hopes are relatively affordable, should be prepared to act quickly in order to secure their property. Peole should have a check list of home features that mirror their needs when looking at aproprty.Home buyers should be preapproved for a mortgage and be willing to act quickly when then locate a home that suits their needs. While there are some Realtors that correctly sugguest that offers should be uncomplicated, these offers still should have a mortgage contingency(unless you are lucky enough to be able to pat cash) and have a home inspection. There are many other points to consider when buying a home and its best to have a Realtor knowledgeable in the area to assist you in your home search and purchase.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Native Plants

Now that spring time finally seems to arrived and plants are slowly pushing their leaves out of the ground many of us are planning what to do in our gardens this year. Everybodys goals from new gardners to experienced ones with established gardens have different plans. These plans will vary from vegatible gardens to flower gardens to those of us that have both vegatables and flowers in our yards,we plans and interests. Over the last few years,my interests have included the use of native plants in my yard,both flower and vegatables. Native plants can vary from region to region,but all of them have some common points. They tend to survive best in their own region due to their establishment in each region,they tend to use less pesticides than other plants and many of them will attract various birds,insects and other animals with their flowers,fruit and or as sources of pollen and nectar for local wildlife. They also can be easier to tend thab non native plans due to their compatability with local soil conditions and weather patterns. There are numerous trees,shrubs,grasses and trees to pick from and most gardeners can easily select a wide range of plants to accomidate any size of garden or one that is wet in nature,dry or various degrees of sunlight or shade.Some of these plants will due best in the spring time,summer or fall. There are a number of good plant groups beyound local plant stores. They include: The New England Wildflower Plants Society (www.newfps,org) Tower Hill Botanical Gardens( The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society( or Project Native ( Feel free to visit their site as well,ask for advise or visit their plant sales and garden tours. Happy Gardening

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Home Gardening

Now that winter has almost released its snowy grip upon most of the Northeast,its time to think about what sort of garden will look best outside the host. While everybodys home is different and horticultural tastes,may differ some key points should be considered. These include the amount of sun is available, how much water is available and how much organic material/plant food is already in the soil.Some of the basic leg work can be saved by having the soil tested for its organic content and the amount of sun available be seeing how many and how tall are the existing trees,fences and walls of the house. The amount of sunlight that is available can be trickey since the angle of the sun changes over the year.While water is a factor,dryness can be resolved by using mulch and vasious sorts of irragation systems such as drip hoses and water barrels.Areas that are constantly wet/moist will limit the area to plants that will tolerate wet feet or require being wet all of the time. One of the biggest mistakes that a gardner can make is placing a plant in an area that does not meet the required amount of sunlight or water requirements.Another frequent mistake is planting a plant that rapidly becomes too big for its site.While there is nothing wrong about having a few big plants in your garden, it may make the garden less interesting and/or crowd out your other plants. I have always enjoyed planting native plants in my garden.They tend to be attractive,survive well in the yard and will help bring in various sorts of birds,small animals and butterflys into the garden.Selecting the right mix of plants and suitabilty for the amount of water and sunlight can help create a restful and pretty place for your own use and when guests vist your home. In order to help get a better idea of which plants to place at your home,your local garden club or groups such as Garden in the Woods or the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society or plant society can be useful sources of information

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Paying for Energy Efficiency UpGrades

Most of us aware that green homes help make our home envirement healthier to live in and if managed correctly can be more economicial to operate than a trditional home.However,many people do not go foward with energy efficient upgrades due to the added expence of materials and labor involved in this process.Granted this argument has merit,but there are ways to help off set these expences. In Massachussetts we have a program funded by the utility companies called Mass Save( This program provides a free home audit of your home and in many cases their representative will provide free CFLS, a programable thermostate and other devises that help reduce your electric an dheating costs. In many cases,you can be eligable for up to $2000 worth of insulation per house with you paying only 20% of the projects cost. Multi family homes up to 4 apartments can recieve this work and material for each unit. Many energy star rated appliances not only save water and electric costs,but may have a rebate to save on the purchase price. Low on no interest loans are available as well for many projects. Many of the larger projects and other energy efficieny work can also result in a reduction of your Federal and/or State Income Taxes. For further information look up or Google Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency. Most projects still cost money but these programs,rebates,tax incentives and cost savings will help the projects pay for themselves

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Real Cost of Home Ownership

Most of us usually think of the cost of home ownership is how much we pay for the house. If we are lucky,we do not have to pay interest on the mortgage.But for the majority of home owners like myself,we have to pay monthly interest on our home loans.We also need to look at the cost of the home inspector and lawyer that help us purchase the house.The cost of applying for the mortgage and interest payments adds to the cost of housing.There is also real estate taxes that we must pay to our community.Add these fees together and we have a basic monthly amount that are our expences. However ther are ongoing costs to help main the house.These costs include,heat,insurance maintance remodeling,replacing roofs,appliances and landscaping the house.It is important to know these costs in order to know the true cost of owning and operating a house. Some of us can reduce heating/electric costs if we insulate our homes or have high efficiency heating systems. Depending on income,we might be able to reduce our income tax by deducting our interest payments. In the long run,all of the expences need to be considered when looking at the true cost of housing

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Use of Credit Cards

The use of credit has been on the rise over the last few years. Between car loans and mortgages,people are using credit cards more often than using cash for purchases. These purchases are for mundane needs such as grocery shopping,gas to lunch and routine needs. Credit card bills can easily mount due to planned purchases,holiday gifts or unexpected needs.It is important to keep receipts of all credit card purchases,review your bill once you receive it and challange any purchases that you feel are not correct. Also think about paying the balance at the end of each billing cycle.The interest rates on unpaid credit card balances are very high and not having to pay interest on the cards can free up money for other needs. Also contact for your free annual copy of your credit reports. Carefully review the reports form all three reporting services. If they are not correct,contact the reporting agency and challange the part that you feel is not correct.Having a correct credit report can make a difference in being approved for a loan or credit card.