C21 Commonwealth Blog http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/ http://www.rssboard.org/rss-specification BlogEngine.NET en-US C21 Commonwealth Blog 0.000000 0.000000 5 Smart Home Features That You'll Start Seeing Everywhere <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Smart%20Home%20Concept.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Are you looking to make your life just a little bit easier? If you&rsquo;re shopping for a new home or looking to install <a href="http://blogengine.commonmoves.com/post/2016/06/13/Marketing-Homes-with-Smart-Features.aspx">smart home gadgets</a> in your existing home, the number of available products is growing rapidly. You can control your lighting, your thermostat, or even set up an entire connected system to control from your smartphone.</p> <p>From smart speakers to smoke detectors and home locks, this technology space is ushering in the connected home. Companies like Amazon, Apple, Google, Philips, and more are investing in this technology, and it&rsquo;s becoming increasingly common to see smart features in homes.</p> <h2>Smart Speakers</h2> <p>There are many smart speaker options available right now, but Amazon&rsquo;s Echo speakers with Alexa are undoubtedly the most ubiquitous. You can use them to play music, control other smart home gadgets, ask questions, and even purchase items from Amazon. With upcoming options from Apple, and Google&rsquo;s Home line available, smart speakers are becoming a fixture in every home.</p> <h2>Smart Thermostat</h2> <p>What started with Nest (now part of Alphabet, Google&rsquo;s parent company) is now the standard in thermostats. Control your thermostat from your smartphone, as it learns your habits, saves energy, and even integrates with voice assistants like Alexa. Many smart thermostats feature touchscreen interfaces and multiple sensors for individual rooms so that you can maximize your energy savings.</p> <h2>Smart Home Locks</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Smart%20Home%20Security%20System.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Protect your home by always having a secure way to enter using a code, your smartphone, and integration with Apple&rsquo;s HomeKit platform with a smart lock. There are several options on the market from established deadbolt companies and new technology startups, but they all offer ease of use compared to carrying a key. Most smart locks&rsquo; designs are simple and elegant while also serving the practical purpose of keeping you safe.</p> <h2>Smart Light Bulbs</h2> <p>While the Philips Hue series may be the first name that comes to mind, other smart light bulbs are growing in popularity. Some allow you to change the light color, adjust brightness, and control everything from a single hub. No more forgetting to turn off the lights: you can control them from anywhere, set schedules to turn them off, and even have your lights welcome you home.</p> <h2>Smart Hubs</h2> <p>With a wide variety of smart home gadgets comes a necessity to centralize and integrate them. A smart hub accomplishes just this, combining everything into a single app which you can control from your phone. You&rsquo;ll pair all your smart devices with it and then be able to manage them all from one interface.</p> <h2>Even More</h2> <p>Smart home technology is constantly growing, and there are even more gadgets out there, like smart garage door openers, connected appliances, smart smoke detectors, and smart security cameras. If they can add value to your home and your life, consider making them a part of your home and enhancing your connected lifestyle.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Popular-Smart-Home-Features http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Popular-Smart-Home-Features#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=a744c780-f6c6-4388-a7a3-2366aa6609b0 Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:42:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling Pre-Approved vs. Pre-Qualified: Why It Pays to Know the Difference <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Mortgage%20Calculator%20Red%20Background.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Navigating the home buying process for the first time can seem complicated, but being financially prepared can help you land the home you want. Two financial terms you should start familiarizing yourself with are &ldquo;pre-approved,&rdquo; and &ldquo;pre-qualified.&rdquo; While they sound similar, there&rsquo;s a significant difference between them&mdash;and it&rsquo;s important to understand each when making an offer on your new home. Don&rsquo;t let a misunderstanding stop you from getting the house you want. Learn more about what each term means for your financial situation.</p> <h2>What is Pre-Qualification?</h2> <p>Getting pre-qualified is often the first step in the mortgage process. You meet with your bank or lender and give them an idea of your overall financial picture, including debts, your annual income, and any assets you have. Then they&rsquo;ll let you know what mortgage amount you can qualify for, in a general range. You can get pre-qualified over the phone or online, and it doesn&rsquo;t require a credit check or report. This step is important so you can figure out how much house you can afford and what loan options will work for you.</p> <p>However, getting pre-qualified doesn&rsquo;t mean that the loan amount is certain, or even that you&rsquo;ll necessarily be approved for a mortgage. It&rsquo;s all an estimation that will become clearer when you get pre-approved for a mortgage.</p> <h2>What is a Pre-Approval?</h2> <p>After you&rsquo;ve gotten pre-qualified, pre-approval is the next step. Whether you choose to go with your bank or a different lender, you&rsquo;ll complete a mortgage application (and probably pay an application fee) and go through an extensive check on your financial background and credit. You&rsquo;ll have to provide documentation, including financial records, pay stubs, and more. At this stage, your lender can give a specific mortgage amount you&rsquo;re approved for&mdash;giving you a maximum budget (with your down payment) toward your future home. You&rsquo;ll also be given official interest rates, loan term options, and will possibly be able to lock in the rate before putting down an offer.</p> <h2>Why Do Both?</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Mortgage%20Loan%20Approved.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>As you go through the house hunting process, you can get an idea of what you can afford based on loan calculators and what you&rsquo;re currently paying for rent. Pre-qualification and pre-approval together let you get on track toward finding the right priced home and getting your financing. Being pre-approved will help you move quickly when you&rsquo;ve found the right house.</p> <p>Remember, pre-approval and pre-qualification are not the same. While getting pre-qualified is an important step in the process, pre-approval lets you make an offer knowing your financing is in place.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Pre-Approved-vs-Pre-Qualified http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Pre-Approved-vs-Pre-Qualified#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=ce217905-1e29-49e6-8014-3f975dabb922 Mon, 13 Nov 2017 10:30:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling Why You Still Need a Realtor When Listing Your Home in a Seller's Market <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Housing%20Market%20Favoring%20Sellers.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re living in a seller&rsquo;s market, you may have heard stories from neighbors who sold their home within three days of putting it on the market or received well over the asking price when buyers got into a bidding war. After hearing these stories, you might think that your house will practically sell itself once you list it.</p> <p>Although it can be tempting to go the for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) route when you live in a seller&rsquo;s market, it&rsquo;s still in your best interest to work with a Realtor. Here are six reasons you should work with a listing agent, even in a hot housing market.</p> <h2>You Need to Price Your Home Right from the Start</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s still possible to overprice your home and scare buyers away in a seller&rsquo;s market. You may think you can price your home by using a consumer tool like Zillow&rsquo;s Zestimate, but <a href="http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/111115/zillow-estimates-not-accurate-you-think.asp">the data that powers these tools is not always accurate</a>, which could lead you to over- or undervalue your home. A Realtor has access to the current market data for your area and can use this information to help you price your home correctly.</p> <h2>You Want to Reach as Many Qualified Buyers as Possible</h2> <p>If you stick a &ldquo;For Sale By Owner&rdquo; sign in your front yard, you might not have as many buyers beating down your door as you think. <a href="https://www.nar.realtor/quick-real-estate-statistics">88% of home buyers</a> work with a real estate agent or broker, and many buyer&rsquo;s agents avoid showing their clients FSBO homes because they don&rsquo;t want the hassle of working with a (potentially inexperienced) seller. When you work with a listing agent, on the other hand, they&rsquo;ll help spread the word about your home to a large network of buyers (beyond the MLS and real estate websites like Zillow and Redfin).</p> <h2>You&rsquo;ll Connect with Other Trusted Real Estate Professionals</h2> <p>A good Realtor can tap into their network and give you recommendations for:</p> <ul> <li>A photographer (who can take listing photos of your home looking its best)</li> <li>A professional stager (who can help furnish and lay out your rooms to appeal to buyers)</li> <li>A home inspector (who can provide an honest assessment of your home&rsquo;s condition before a potential buyer brings their own inspector in)</li> <li>Home contractors (who can make repairs based on issues that the home inspector identifies)</li> </ul> <h2>Your Realtor Will Handle Time-Consuming Tasks</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Realtor%20on%20Phone%20in%20Front%20of%20House.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>If you&rsquo;re already working full-time, do you really want to spend all your time outside of work marketing your home and arranging showings? It&rsquo;s your Realtor&rsquo;s job to handle these time-consuming tasks so that you don&rsquo;t have to. And, since they have more experience with marketing and showing homes than you do, they&rsquo;ll be able to present a more professional front to buyers.</p> <h2>You Need an Experienced Negotiator on Your Side</h2> <p>Do you know what to do if you get multiple offers on your home? Or if a buyer includes contingencies with their offer? A Realtor has experience handling these types of negotiations and will be able to communicate with the buyer&rsquo;s agent on your behalf. They&rsquo;ll also be able to keep emotions out of the negotiation process, which can be hard to do when the seller is handling the negotiations directly.</p> <h2>You Need Someone Who Understands Real Estate Law</h2> <p>A Realtor can help you navigate contracts and closing paperwork so that you can protect yourself legally. If any complex legal issues arise during the home sale process, they may also be able to refer you to a good real estate attorney.</p> <p>Ultimately, you&rsquo;ll want a Realtor on your side regardless of market conditions because they can help you get the best possible price for your home. They should be very familiar with the market and local home buying trends, which will allow them to set you up for success.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Realtor-Listing-Home-in-Sellers-Market http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Realtor-Listing-Home-in-Sellers-Market#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=94246e3d-3429-4973-a197-fc4c5b11ea79 Mon, 06 Nov 2017 10:29:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling Home Features That Appeal to Young Families <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Young%20Family%20in%20Front%20of%20House.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>It&rsquo;s no surprise that parents with young children have different priorities than childless adults or empty nesters when searching for a home. Rather than just looking for home features and amenities that appeal to them, they&rsquo;re going to be thinking about what&rsquo;s best for their kids, from schools within walking distance to a safe outdoor space for playing.</p> <p>When working with a home seller who wants their listing to appeal to parents with young kids, be sure to highlight family-friendly features such as:</p> <h2>A Fenced-In Backyard</h2> <p>If your seller has an open backyard, see if they&rsquo;d be willing to add a privacy fence. This small addition can make a big difference to young parents, who are looking for a safe place their kids and pets can play. If your client&rsquo;s house already has a fence, they can spruce the space up even more with some simple backyard staging. A few nice pieces of patio furniture&mdash;and maybe a grill or firepit&mdash;will help families imagine spending time together in the yard.</p> <h2>Recently Updated Kitchen and Bathrooms</h2> <p>While <a href="https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2015/08/05/why-millennials-are-dominating-the-housing-market">62% of young homeowners say they&rsquo;ve done some renovations</a>, most aren&rsquo;t looking for a labor-intensive fixer-upper. Not only do renovations require more time and energy than most young parents have, they can also be expensive. And for parents who are putting most of their savings into a down payment, closing costs, and a monthly mortgage, there may not be much of a budget for renovations or repairs. Recently updated kitchens and bathrooms appeal to young families because they&rsquo;re typically the most expensive rooms to renovate.</p> <h2>An Open Kitchen Layout</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Open%20Plan%20Kitchen%20with%20Island.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>In the past couple decades, the kitchen has transformed into a space for families to come together. Many young parents would prefer an open kitchen with room to gather for meals over a formal dining room. Open kitchens work well for quick family meals on busy weeknights, and they also let parents see into the living room (and possibly the backyard) to keep an eye on their kids while making dinner.</p> <h2>Three or More Bedrooms</h2> <p>Since most homeowners plan to stay in their home for at least five years before selling, it&rsquo;s important for young parents to choose a space that&rsquo;s large enough for their family, especially if they plan to have more kids. If it&rsquo;s in their budget, most young parents would prefer a home with at least three bedrooms. If they find a home with an extra bedroom, they may like the idea of turning it into a home office or playroom.</p> <h2>Energy-Efficient Features</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Backyard%20Garden.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Eco-friendly features, such as a smart thermostat and Energy Star appliances, often appeal to young parents. These features can help reduce monthly utility bills (something that&rsquo;s sure to be on the minds of budget-conscious parents) and improve the indoor environment for kids. Parents may also appreciate features like a small backyard garden or rain collection bin that could help teach their kids about sustainability.</p> <h2>Built-In Storage</h2> <p>Adequate storage space is something that all home buyers are looking for, but it&rsquo;s especially important to young parents, who may feel like they&rsquo;re fighting an uphill battle to keep their kids&rsquo; toys and gear organized. Built-in storage features, such as bookshelves, pull-out pantry shelves, and a closet under the stairs, are worth pointing out to buyers. Creative built-in storage will help young families maximize their space and keep clutter under control.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Home-Features-Appeal-to-Young-Families http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Home-Features-Appeal-to-Young-Families#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=24568629-c8da-4370-8ab8-56b18c8ca6c6 Mon, 06 Nov 2017 10:13:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling 4 Quick and Easy Ways to Prep Your House for Showings <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Family%20Cleaning%20House.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>When you&rsquo;re getting your home ready to show, it might seem obvious that you should keep it clean, but there are many ways you can help maximize value and help sell your home more quickly. While most potential buyers don&rsquo;t expect perfection when they&rsquo;re walking into a home that&rsquo;s being lived in, they want to imagine themselves living there. With these few tricks, you can get your home off the market faster and get a better offer for your property.</p> <h2>Set the Stage</h2> <p>It&rsquo;s time to deep clean and stage your home for buyers. Remove excess clutter, family portraits, and do a thorough cleaning of all public areas, especially bathrooms and kitchens. If you can, hire a staging company to make the home look great to potential buyers, either using your existing furniture or rented pieces.</p> <p>Once your home is looking up to snuff, you and your Realtor can pronounce it ready for the market and open it up to your first showing or open house. But even a home that&rsquo;s spic and span will get dirty and messy over time, so here&rsquo;s how to keep it clean:</p> <h2>Make a Designated Junk Zone</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Toy%20Box.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Whether or not you have kids, there are things you&rsquo;re going to need that don&rsquo;t fit into a perfectly staged home. Keep storage bins with the stuff you need in a coat closet, the garage, or another hidden place where most buyers won&rsquo;t look. These bins will be perfect for last-minute cleanups when your Realtor lets you know you have a showing in a few hours, and you need to get out soon. You&rsquo;ll quickly vacuum, pack up your stuff, and head off!</p> <h2>Manage Your Trash</h2> <p>Don&rsquo;t lose an offer due to some smelly trash. Make sure all the trash is out of your home before a buyer comes through the door. If it helps, consolidate your trash cans, so it makes it easier to keep track of them. Then remove the big bag before a scheduled showing. This cleanliness makes a great impression on potential buyers.</p> <h2>Do a Quick Clean Up Before a Showing</h2> <p>Hopefully, you know about your showing the day before and have time to prepare, including cleaning counter tops in the kitchen and bathroom, sweeping, and dusting. If you don&rsquo;t have much time, prepare a quick routine, getting rid of any dirty dishes, clearing cluttered countertops, and wiping down surfaces. Consider lighting a candle or starting some essential oils in a diffuser before the showing starts.</p> <p>With these tips, you&rsquo;ll be ready to go when a showing happens. Keep your home looking good between showings and be ready whenever your Realtor needs, and your home will sell more quickly!</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Easy-Ways-Prep-for-Showings http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Easy-Ways-Prep-for-Showings#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=97c3bf20-b187-40c1-96af-8c90cd7c6e9d Mon, 30 Oct 2017 10:31:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling Should You Buy a House or Condo? <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Condos%20in%20Back%20Bay.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Buying a new home can be a challenging proposition. There are so many options on the market, and knowing what&rsquo;s right for you can be hard to determine. For example, many Boston-area residents must decide whether to purchase a traditional single-family house or a condominium. There are positives and negatives to each. While condos often have included maintenance and lower initial costs than single-family homes, there are risks to condo ownership.</p> <p>Here are several items to consider if you&rsquo;re a homebuyer choosing between a single-family home, condo, or other property:</p> <ul> <li>Location and lifestyle</li> <li>Monthly fees, including maintenance</li> <li>Rules of ownership (such as HOAs or condo associations)</li> <li>Lending terms and total price</li> </ul> <p>We&rsquo;ll examine the benefits and pitfalls of houses and condos to help you decide which home type is best for your living situation.</p> <h2>Where&rsquo;s the Best Location for You?</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/House%20in%20Northeast%20Suburbs.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>You&rsquo;re more likely to find condos in the center of city action, near restaurants, shops, and public transportation. If you value being close to downtown and being within walking distance of amenities, a condo might be the better fit for you.</p> <p>However, if you prefer having more space, a private yard, and more distance between you and your neighbors, a single-family home might be more your speed. You may still be able to live in a similar location but may have to make other compromises to get the home you want. Moving out to a suburb with good transportation options may allow you to have the best of both worlds. Discuss what&rsquo;s best for you with your Realtor and anyone with whom you&rsquo;re purchasing your home.</p> <h2>Monthly Fees and Maintenance Costs</h2> <p>Many condos include association fees that cover maintenance and repairs. This arrangement allows you to see your costs upfront and pay for them monthly, but it means you&rsquo;re paying even when repairs for your unit aren&rsquo;t necessary.</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re buying a single-family home, it&rsquo;s necessary to set aside money for any issues that come up, such as HVAC repairs, water heater damage, etc. If you like knowing upfront what your costs will be, a condo might be better for you. If you&rsquo;re okay saving for eventualities, a single-family might be a good fit.</p> <h2>HOAs or Condo Associations</h2> <p>Though you can certainly run into owner associations anywhere, they&rsquo;re omnipresent in condos. Owner associations often have the power to tell you where to park, make rules about balcony usage, and create other restrictions. You&rsquo;ll have less power to change outdoor spaces and may have to prescribe to other association rules specific to your building. While a single-family home can be a part of a Homeowners&rsquo; Association, in many parts of the country, you can avoid them and make independent decisions.</p> <h2>Lending Terms and Price</h2> <p>When buying a condo, lending terms can be more stringent, requiring inquiries into your finances, especially if you&rsquo;re putting down less than a 20% down payment. There are often additional condo fees (which aren&rsquo;t tax deductible) to consider, which add to your total price. You may be able to afford more house with a single-family home than you can with a condo.</p> <p>Whichever choice you go with, discuss both options with all your partners in the process, including anyone you&rsquo;re purchasing with, your lender, Realtor, and real estate attorney. These conversations will help you discover which home type is best for your living situation and style.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Buy-House-or-Condo http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Buy-House-or-Condo#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=4f5817a5-d897-4718-9074-d6dbbb3055d2 Mon, 30 Oct 2017 10:16:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling Bigger Isn't Always Better for Millennial Home Buyers <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Smalls%20Craftsman%20House.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>Are you hoping to work with millennial home buyers? That four-bedroom home on a sprawling suburban lot may be a hard sell. A modest two-bedroom townhouse, on the other hand, could be just what young home buyers are looking for.</p> <p>There are several big reasons millennials may prefer smaller homes. They&rsquo;re typically more affordable, require less upkeep, and have less of an environmental impact than larger homes. And, as millennials delay certain major milestones, small homes may be a better fit.</p> <p>The average age for a first marriage is now 27 for women and 29 for men, compared to <a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/06/millennials-delaying-marriage-money-weddings/395870/">20 for women and 23 for men just a couple generations ago</a>. The average age of first-time moms has also been increasing, <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/01/14/462816458/average-age-of-first-time-moms-keeps-climbing-in-the-u-s">going from 21 to 26</a> in the past 45 years. For millennials who delay marriage and children longer than previous generations, it&rsquo;s often practical to choose a smaller property for a first home. After all, why pay more for a three-bedroom home if that third bedroom will go largely unused?</p> <h2>Why Should Realtors Care?</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Millennial%20Home%20Buyers%20with%20Realtor.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>It may seem like only yesterday that the oldest millennials were heading to college and searching for their first jobs, but this group has now come of age and is getting serious about homeownership. Millennials now make up <a href="https://www.inc.com/john-white/how-millennials-are-changing-the-housing-market.html">66% of all first-time home buyers</a>, and their preferences are influencing the housing market.</p> <p>Here are a few things to keep in mind when working as a buyer&rsquo;s agent for millennials who prefer smaller houses:</p> <p><strong>Most millennials aren&rsquo;t looking for their &lsquo;forever home.&rsquo;</strong> Only 11% of millennials see home ownership as permanent, and 68% say their first home is a stepping stone towards the home they really want.</p> <p><strong>Young buyers are looking for small homes that feel big.</strong> Open floorplans and plenty of windows are popular features because they can make a small space feel larger and less confined. When floor space is at a premium, creative storage spaces are also a hot commodity.</p> <p><strong>Commuting convenience is key.</strong> Not all millennials are buying small condos in the heart of big cities (almost half live in suburban communities), but most want to be close to big city amenities and, even more importantly, their job. 65% of millennials rank &ldquo;convenient location to their job&rdquo; as the most important factor when choosing a neighborhood and home.</p> <p><strong>Millennials are a diverse generation</strong>, and it&rsquo;s important to recognize that not all young home buyers are looking for the same thing. While many millennial buyers may want smaller homes, there will also be some who are looking for space to accommodate a big family. Ultimately, you&rsquo;ll need to get to know each buyer to determine what&rsquo;s best for them.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Millennial-Home-Buyers-Small-Homes http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Millennial-Home-Buyers-Small-Homes#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=6417df07-d851-40a0-99ce-637c37347e63 Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:54:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling Most Scenic Hikes and Trail Runs Outside of Boston <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Blue%20Hills%20Reservation%20Mark%20Fickett.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo Credit: Mark Fickett, <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boardwalk_through_Ponkapoag_Bog_Clearing.jpg">WikiCommons</a></em></p> <p>Boston has plenty of great trails, from the Emerald Necklace to the Charles River Esplanade, but you&rsquo;ll find some truly astounding places to walk and run when you venture outside of the city. It doesn&rsquo;t matter if you&rsquo;re looking for somewhere scenic to train for the Boston marathon or just want to get off the beaten path so you can let your dog off-leash: Massachusetts has a wide assortment of trails you&rsquo;ll love.</p> <p>Below are six of our favorite Massachusetts spots for hiking and running.</p> <h2>Blue Hills Reservation</h2> <p><strong>Location:</strong> Milton, Quincy, Braintree, Canton, Randolph, and Dedham (about 17 miles south of Boston)</p> <p>If you&rsquo;re looking for a location where you&rsquo;ll never run out of new trails to explore, head to Blue Hills Reservation. With 125 miles of trails, Blue Hills is best approached with a trail map (especially if it&rsquo;s your first time visiting). For the best views, you&rsquo;ll want to hike the 3-mile Skyline Loop, which includes the summit of Great Blue Hill. The Skyline Trail is also a popular training route for trail runners and can easily be expanded beyond the 3-mile loop.</p> <h2>Noanet Woodlands</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Noanet%20Woodlands%20Mike%20Halsall.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><em>Photo Credit: Mike Halsall, <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mikehalsall/4003519101/">Flickr</a></em></p> <p><strong>Location:</strong> Dover (about 17 miles southwest of Boston)</p> <p>Well-marked trails and relatively easy footing make Noanet Woodlands a great spot for hikers of all ability levels. This forested area doesn&rsquo;t see as much foot traffic as bigger reservations like Blue Hills, so it&rsquo;s also an appealing choice for anyone looking for a little peace and quiet. A hike through the Noanet Woodlands will give you a chance to enjoy sights such as rolling hills, placid ponds, an old mill, and the Boston skyline (visible from Noanet Peak). Long-distance runners looking for a challenge will be happy to know that the trails at Noanet Woodlands connect to Hale Reservation, and a loop of the two areas can be at least 20 miles.</p> <h2>Western Greenway Trail</h2> <p><strong>Location:</strong> Waltham, Lexington, and Belmont (about 12 miles northwest of Boston)</p> <p>The Western Greenway trail system is mostly made up of carriage roads, although you&rsquo;ll also encounter a boardwalk crossing a bog. There isn&rsquo;t much elevation change, and the terrain is mostly smooth, but there are some stretches with roots, rocks, and logs that will provide an interesting challenge for hikers and trail runners. Picturesque scenery is a guarantee when you visit, and you may also spot some wildlife, such as wild turkeys, foxes, and great horned owls.</p> <h2>Purgatory Chasm Reservation</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Purgatory%20Chasm%20Reservation.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Location:</strong> Sutton (about 50 miles southwest of Boston)</p> <p>Purgatory Chasm may be home to rock formations with names like The Coffin and Lovers&rsquo; Leap, but don&rsquo;t let the ominous names scare you away. Purgatory Chasm Reservation is a one-of-a-kind hiking area and a must for anyone who doesn&rsquo;t mind scrambling over a few boulders. Chasm Loop Trail is a relatively short hike (just half a mile) but provides a moderate challenge thanks to the rocky terrain.</p> <h2>Middlesex Fells Reservation</h2> <p><strong>Location:</strong> Medford (about 6 miles north of Boston)</p> <p>Hikers, runners, and dog walkers alike will love the 100+ miles of trails at Middlesex Fells Reservation. Highlights include the Sheepfold Field, a 10-acre field where dogs can go off-leash, and the 7-mile Skyline Trail. The Skyline Trail will mostly take you through wooded areas, but it also includes a few steep climbs to rocky overlooks where you can enjoy stunning views of the greater Boston area.</p> <h2>Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Ipswich%20River.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p><strong>Location:</strong> Topsfield (about 30 miles north of Boston)</p> <p>Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary is a large preserve with more than 12 miles of interconnecting trails, so you&rsquo;re likely to have long stretches of your hike or run to yourself. The sanctuary encompasses forests, meadows, and wetlands, and the wildlife here is diverse (don&rsquo;t be surprised if you see a few bird watchers). Sights you&rsquo;ll want to check out include the observation tower, vernal pool, and the rockery&mdash;a network of caves and narrow passages.</p> <p>No matter where you live in Massachusetts, you&rsquo;re sure to discover beautiful hiking and running spots that are just a short drive away. Get outside and find out what wildlife sanctuaries and nature preserves are in your backyard.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Scenic-Hikes-Outside-of-Boston http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Scenic-Hikes-Outside-of-Boston#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=6aeb84e6-e228-46a6-8b21-0fa451010c14 Mon, 23 Oct 2017 10:08:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling Timeless Fall Decor Ideas for Your Home <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Fall%20Foliage%20Decor_Resized.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>When people mention fall decorating, your mind may immediately turns to pumpkins, Halloween, wreaths, and other stereotypical interior design ideas. However, there&rsquo;s so much more to the harvest season than these archetypes. You can freshen up your home with timeless takes on fall decorating that will impress your guests and keep your spaces looking great from Labor Day to Thanksgiving. Check out these ideas for fall decorating you&rsquo;ll want to use every year:</p> <h2>Fall Foliage Arrangements Throughout the Home</h2> <p>Take advantage of the gorgeous changing leaves by creating an arrangement using fallen branches with berries, pine needles, and a variety of leaves. Bouquets like these capture the autumn feeling and will last longer than traditional flowers. It&rsquo;s a beautiful twist on florals that ties into this season and brings nature indoors.</p> <h2>Firewood as Decor</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Firewood%20in%20Woven%20Basket_Resized.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>If you have a fireplace, firewood can be more than function; it can be a key decorative piece. Even if it&rsquo;s not yet chilly enough to light a fire, bringing hardwood in sets the tone for the autumn season. Add some rustic charm and get ready to curl up in front of the fire as the days get cooler.</p> <h2>Family Photo Displays</h2> <p>The fall season brings with it many holidays, and with it, family visits. Go into the attic or basement and dig out your old family photos, and create a display or gallery wall of your favorite memories. Get some new frames or find vintage ones to craft a loving collection of pictures.</p> <h2>Layers Everywhere</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Cat%20on%20Throw%20Blanket.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>It can get cold in the fall, especially in the Boston area, so stock up on throws and blankets. Find comfy wool, cotton, chenille, or even cashmere throws to place throughout the living areas of your home so your family and guests can stay warm and comfortable throughout the season. Layers are a great opportunity to <a href="http://commonmoves.com/blog/Spruce-Up-Home-Using-Textures/">incorporate new colors and textures</a> into the space as well.</p> <h2>Candles Galore</h2> <p>While many people use candles throughout the year, fall is the time to break out candles en masse. Whether you&rsquo;re into pumpkin spice scented candles, or you just like lanterns or hurricane lamps with pillar candles to create a cozy environment, you can&rsquo;t go wrong. Just be sure to keep an eye on your candles for safety, no matter where you set them.</p> <h2>Autumn Colors</h2> <p>While certain colors are pegged as fall hues (think orange and red), you can experiment with various fun shades throughout your home. You don&rsquo;t need to buy new furniture; you can add in new colors via accents and accessories, like blankets and pillows. Try mustard yellow, burnt orange, mellow green, and even sky blue to bring the fall season into your home.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Timeless-Fall-Decor-Ideas http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Timeless-Fall-Decor-Ideas#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=a4ed3c19-3f9b-48cb-b26e-b7acacfa34a2 Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:19:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling How to Make Buyers Feel Welcome When Showing a Home <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Realtor%20Smiling%20with%20Client.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>As a buyer&rsquo;s agent, it&rsquo;s your job to help your home buying clients feel at ease when viewing properties. Whether you&rsquo;re taking them to various open houses or going to private showings, it&rsquo;s important to ensure they feel welcome at every stage. Understanding your buyer&rsquo;s needs and guiding them through a home will help them make informed decisions.</p> <p>Following these tips will make your home-showing process smoother and more efficient, helping your buyers think about making an offer on the home they truly want:</p> <h2>Make Sure They&rsquo;re Prepared</h2> <p>Especially when working with first-time homebuyers, it&rsquo;s important to educate them about <a href="http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Initial-Steps-Start-House-Hunting/">how the home buying process works</a>. Talk to them about financing, preapproval, and how to make a competitive offer. If your buyers haven&rsquo;t performed the necessary steps to start looking at homes, like <a href="http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Educate-Buyers-Pre-Approval-Process/">getting prequalified</a> and determining a budget, it might be wise to wait before going to look at properties.</p> <h2>Organize Your Information</h2> <p>You can&rsquo;t have too much information for your buyers about the homes you&rsquo;re touring. Floor plans, inspection reports, and historical surveys, including census data, can all be useful. Make sure you&rsquo;re ready to answer questions about the neighborhood and specific homes when you get there for the tour. Have a copy of important documents ready for your clients and yourself, and provide them with a clipboard for notes.</p> <h2>Be an Objective Consultant and Don&rsquo;t Oversell</h2> <p>When starting off with a client, you&rsquo;re learning their tastes and needs in a home. Even if they&rsquo;ve given you a list of must-haves, private showings are the only way to truly gauge their interest. Work to help your client find the perfect home for them, instead of trying to sell them on each home you visit. Overselling a property or employing too many closing techniques can lead to deals that fall through and stop you from building trust with your buyers.</p> <h2>Help Them Imagine Living There</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Realtor%20Showing%20Client%20Uses%20for%20Room.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>As a Realtor, you have experience visualizing how a home can look in various configurations. Even a staged home still benefits from some creativity and imagination. Start off by ensuring the home is ready for showing when you get there: the lights are on, blinds are open, the air conditioning/heat is working, etc. When you walk through, offer advice to help your buyers envision living there. Tailor this to their specific lifestyle (i.e., an extra bedroom could be a nursery, game room, or man cave, depending on the client).</p> <h2>Give Them Enough Space</h2> <p>After the initial tour, allow your buyers to explore alone. They can discuss the listing together and then bring up any concerns with you later. This time can lead to dialogue and help you better facilitate their home purchase. Continuing this discussion throughout the homebuying process helps your clients feel supported and helps them remember which properties they like and dislike.</p> <h2>Keep Lines of Communication Open</h2> <p>Whether your clients are first-time homebuyers or veteran purchasers, be ready to discuss listings with them and offer them opportunities to schedule return visits. Offering meetings, phone calls, and email discussions can establish trust with your buyers, helping lead to a sale.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/How-to-Make-Buyers-Feel-Welcome-When-Showing-a-Home http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/How-to-Make-Buyers-Feel-Welcome-When-Showing-a-Home#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=a949672b-7f9e-4055-8b8c-1fe8d93c7b3e Mon, 16 Oct 2017 10:06:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling Doing a Final Walk-Through: What to Expect <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Final%20Walkthrough%20Couple.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>You&rsquo;ve found your new home, the seller has accepted your offer, you&rsquo;ve conducted a home inspection, and the closing date is approaching fast. Before you close, there&rsquo;s just one major milestone left: the final walk-through.</p> <p>The final walk-through may seem like just another item you have to check off your home-buying to-do list, but it&rsquo;s far more than just a formality. Some buyers might think that it&rsquo;s unnecessary since their home inspection should have uncovered any issues, but it&rsquo;s important to make sure nothing has gone wrong between the inspection and closing. This is especially valuable if the seller has already moved out and the house has been sitting vacant.</p> <p>The goal of the walk-through is to ensure that the home&rsquo;s condition hasn&rsquo;t changed since you last visited and that the seller has completed any repairs they agreed upon in the contract. If you breeze through the final walk-through or skip it altogether, you may find yourself tackling some unexpected repairs in your first days as a new homeowner.</p> <p>Now that you know why a final walk-through is essential, let&rsquo;s look at what you can expect from yours:</p> <h2>You Should Have Your Contract Handy</h2> <p>You may need to refer to your contract while you&rsquo;re doing your walk-through. For example, if you and the seller agreed on a set of repair contingencies, you&rsquo;ll want to check the contract to make sure all those contingencies have been met. If the seller stated in the contract that they would leave certain items (such as a washer/dryer set) with the house, you should confirm those items are still in place. Conversely, if the seller has left behind items that weren&rsquo;t covered in the contract (such as old paint cans or bookshelves), you&rsquo;ll need to let them know that it&rsquo;s their responsibility to remove them.</p> <h2>Be Thorough</h2> <p><img style="vertical-align: middle;" src="http://media.e-net.com/c21commonwealth/blog/prod/c21commonweath_ldowling/images/Final%20Walkthrough%20Running%20Faucet.jpg" alt="" /></p> <p>You may want to write a checklist so that you don&rsquo;t forget anything. Things you&rsquo;ll want to do during the walk-through include:</p> <ul> <li>Inspecting the roof and siding for storm damage</li> <li>Looking for visible damage to the ceilings, walls, or floors</li> <li>Testing all appliances</li> <li>Testing the flush function on the toilets</li> <li>Turning on the heating and cooling systems for a few minutes each</li> <li>Running faucets and checking for leaks</li> <li>Opening and closing windows and doors to make sure they don&rsquo;t stick</li> <li>Testing the outlets by plugging in your phone charger</li> <li>Making sure all storage areas have been cleared out</li> <li>Checking on repairs to make sure they&rsquo;ve been completed to the specifications in the contract</li> </ul> <p>Keep in mind that the above isn&rsquo;t a full list of final walk-through items. Your Realtor may have additional recommendations.</p> <h2>If You Uncover Issues, Decide What You&rsquo;re Willing to Tackle</h2> <p>If you discover an issue over the course of the final walk-through, ask yourself if it&rsquo;s worth moving back the closing date to have the seller handle it or if you&rsquo;d rather just resolve it yourself. For example, if you notice a couple of burnt-out light bulbs, you may opt to replace them yourself for the sake of settling on time.</p> <p>However, if you uncover something big that didn&rsquo;t come up during the home inspection, you may save yourself a lot of time, money, and frustration by getting the seller to address it. You and your Realtor will need to negotiate a fair solution with the buyer and their Realtor. If the seller is in a hurry to close, you may even be able to negotiate a lower sale price to compensate for the repairs you&rsquo;ll have to make.</p> http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Final-Walk-Through-What-to-Expect http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/Final-Walk-Through-What-to-Expect#comment http://www.commonmoves.com/blog/?id=cbd7048e-eeb2-4138-9ec4-a7d73ddd0079 Mon, 09 Oct 2017 10:27:00 -0500 c21commonweath_ldowling