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Window Boxes to Boost Curb Appeal

With beautiful weather forecasted into the summer and the housing market hot, flowers have the power of ‘curb appeal’! Outdoor flowers are a plus in any common areas, but window boxes make a statement. Eye-level, window boxes bring a charm and a delight to both owner/viewers.

Window box ideas include:

1.  A window box with pansies. Pansies are easy maintenance flowers with a tolerance that can last most seasons. Easy to plant and bringing a wide range of colors that brighten any area, no matter the exterior color. When pansies need water, you can typically tell by the way they look (almost wilting). Also mix well with other flowers such as violas, coleus and alyssum. 

2.  A window box with geraniums. Geraniums are another easy, low maintenance plant, that give off vibrant colors and a pleasant scent. When planting geraniums, plant just under where the stem meets the root. Make sure the window box has good drainage to avoid root rot. These plants will need little to no water - some deadheading is helpful - April/May showers may be enough!

3.  A window box for petunias. Petunias are the summer plant. Something so simple to take care of, yet so beautiful. Water twice a week, petunias will grow luxuriously over your window box and have a vine effect. They will catch any viewers' eyes and add to the aesthetics of any space.

4.  A window box for vegetables. To add to your garden space and ‘fresh produce’, a window box for vegetables is a great idea for condos/apartments or any dwelling lacking land space. Cherry tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower and lettuce are all plants that benefit in a window box. What better than fresh produce straight from your window? These plants take water two/three times a week and grow great organically.

 

Tips on Packing and Moving

Moving during COVID-19 presents additional challenges, but also opportunities. Last Fall I moved and experienced it first-hand. For the first time, I had the luxury of additional time to really sort through my things. I was amazed at what I had been willing to pack and bring on my last 3 moves; but now I could change that pattern.

First, we made the tough decisions and let go of some of our things.  We made donations and used NextDoor to post some of those items, selling vases, bedroom furniture and even an old, down-on-its luck bicycle. Next, we reused boxes from our last move, which saved time and money. Lastly, we hired movers, because we couldn’t depend on family (like we always did) amidst the pandemic. The move was one of our easiest. I hope these suggestions help your next move be less stressful and more seamless. 

1.  Declutter:  Get rid of anything you haven’t used in the past year and things that may have accumulated over time (for me, mainly from impulse purchases). You can visit these links to donate some of your clutter https://www.moving.com/tips/charities-free-donation-pickup/ and https://bigfootmoving.com/residential/donate-unwanted-items/.

2.  Boxes:  Pick out different sized boxes. There are even boxes that you can hang your clothes and coats. 

3.  Labels:  Label the boxes by room and write on the box what is placed inside, then you can place those boxes in the appropriate rooms. This alleviates a lot re-moving heavy boxes from room to room. 

4.  Packing:  Use appropriate boxes for items, place heavy items on the bottom and lighter items on top. Check the box’s weight often to avoid over packing and making the box too heavy. 

5.  Chargers:  Create a necessity bag and place important items in it, such as phone chargers and important documents.

6.  Movers:  Book your movers as soon as you have your move in date. Also, ask about what extra costs you could anticipate (e.g., tape, furniture covers). (Bonus tip: If you are going to rent your own truck, get one with a ramp - it’s worth the extra money!

7.  Utilities:  Call and set a date to shut off your existing utilities and set start dates at your new place. 
 

There are a lot of movers in and around Boston.  Here are a few that my clients and I have used:

Stairhopper Movers - https://stairhoppers.com/

Gentle Giant - https://www.gentlegiant.com

Olympia Movers - https://olympiamoving.com/


You can also help a great cause while moving by choosing one of these moving companies that will donate your food you don’t want to move:  https://moveforhunger.org/find-a-mover


 

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Need to Break Your Lease?

There are many reasons why someone may need to “break” their apartment lease.  Generally, it is a stressful situation for everyone involved – the tenant usually would not be leaving their apartment were it not for the unforeseen circumstances, and the landlord is concerned about being able to pay their mortgage, real estate taxes and other operating expenses.

It typically becomes important to find a suitable replacement tenant as soon as possible.  Here are some tips for tenants needing to break their lease: 

  • Give the landlord a firm date, in writing, that you will be moving out.  This allows the landlord (and their rental agent) to market the apartment with an available move in date.
     
  • The apartment should be clean and tidy.
     
  • Offer to take updated pictures and a video tour of the apartment, and allow agents to do so too.  This is particularly important in the current environment.  Having pictures and video can help maximize advertising efficiency and limit the number of in-person tours that are required. 
     
  • Make the apartment easily accessible for agents and their clients to view.  Generally, a prospective tenant will NEED to see an apartment in-person before signing a lease.  The easier it is for access, the quicker it generally is to complete a deal with a replacement tenant (which will then eliminate the need for continued disruptions).
     
  • Consider offering incentives to any incoming prospects.  This may include offering to pay the incoming broker fee.  The inventory of available apartments is high right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so we do see situations where the lease-breaking tenant will offer incentives to help get a deal done with a replacement tenant in order to get “off the hook” since it can be cheaper in the long run depending on how much time is left on the lease.
     

We understand that lease break situations can be stressful for all parties involved.  Please feel free to reach out to us and we will do our best to help you navigate through it.

 

 

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Off Market & Private Listings

Traditionally, real estate listings are immediately placed in the multiple listing service (MLS) with photos, a description of the property, HOA fees, floor plans, pricing and other items that are relevant to a possible buyer. This allows the listing to be shared with the broadest possible audience of buyers, and buyer agents. 

Recently, and especially over the last year with the COVID pandemic, off market and private listings have become much more prevalent. For obvious reasons, sellers didn’t want strangers coming into their homes. Instead, the property is quietly marketed through the listing agent’s network of fellow agents, client list, and sphere of influence.  An experienced agent may belong to professional networking group(s).

Besides the changes made due to COVID, the ultra-luxury market is rife with “whisper” listings. Buyers in this category want what others can’t have. It’s exclusive and confidential and they want what their friends can’t get. For the seller, it provides privacy. They don’t want their homes published in MLS, and then propagated to Zillow and countless other public websites.

Case in point, Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s Brookline compound recently traded in an exclusive off market transaction (the sale price was kept private, but many speculate it was over $30M). The property had previously been listed on MLS with another agent for several months without finding a buyer. The power couple hired a new broker who deployed the “off market” strategy to selling their house.

My past four sales have all been private deals, priced from $705,000 to $8,450,000. I’ll be curious to see if this trend continues as we start to get more vaccines rolled out and life returns to something more normal for all of us.

 

 

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Re-Setting the Table

Spring is upon us! Hibernation is over and Boston & Cambridge restaurants are waking up from a lengthy period of deep sleep and take-out. This is great news for restaurateurs, diners, tourists and landlords alike!
 

Here are some restaurants Boston.com highlighted as re-opening in March:

Burro Bar     -     Brookline & South End

City Bar     -     Back Bay

Coppersmiths     -     Southie

Dorchester Brewing Co.     -     Dorchester

Galway House     -     Jamaica Plain

Oak & Rowan     -     Fort Point
 


In a recent article, Terrence Doyle of bostoneater.com recommended these new eateries debuting this Spring:

Cicada Coffee Bar - Vietnamese coffee shop with zen garden.  Cambridge

Cloud & Spirits - Koren-inspired New American.  Cambridge

Mida - house made pasta.  South End & Newton

Wood Fired Love - wood-fired pizza.  Mission Hill

Punch Bowl - contemporary New England fare.  Brookline
 

In anticipation of Summer, I suggest:

Jaho Ice Creme - Japanese style soft serve.  Back Bay, Chinatown & South End

New City Microcreamery - unique flavors made with liquid nitrogen.  Cambridge 

Taiyaki - Japanese waffle treat.  Seaport

Honeycomb Creamery - ice creme tacos.  Cambridge

Milk Bar - signature cereal milk soft serve.  Cambridge

 

 

What is a Cap Rate?

One commonly used metric for evaluating investment property is the capitalization rate, or cap rate.  Overly simplified, it’s what your annual rate of return would be if you purchased a property with all cash (no mortgage).  Put another way, the cap rate is what investors are willing to pay for a dollar of net operating income (NOI).  It is calculated as follows:
 

Cap Rate  =     Net Operating Income   
                   Purchase Price


The main value of a cap rate analysis is its ease and simplicity.  By knowing or estimating the annual rents and expenses, and considering the asking price, you can quickly gauge the “asking” cap rate. 

Market cap rates vary significantly by property type (e.g. multifamily/residential, retail, office, etc.), by location and other factors (e.g. creditworthiness of tenants, length of leases that are in place, etc.).

Other important considerations:

  • Consider whether you are (or should be) evaluating the current/in-place net operating income or the projected net operating income.  If the property is under-rented/substantially vacant, then looking at just the current cap rate may not provide a reliable assessment.
     
  • Consider what expenses you are including, and excluding, in your calculation of net operating income.  This will have a direct impact on the cap rate analysis.  For instance, if you are analyzing a property that shows no property management fee in their operating statement but you are planning to hire a property management company, then that needs to be factored into your analysis.


If you have questions about buying or selling investment property in or around Boston, please contact us.  We are also happy to share recent market reports with cap rate trends.

 

 

How Quickly are Condos Going Under Agreement in Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End?

In Boston's Back Bay, Beacon Hill and South End, competition for condos can be fierce. Available inventory has remained low - essentially at the same levels as we saw pre-pandemic - so when well-priced, desirable condos hit the market, they sell quickly. 

How quickly?  Based on MLS data for condos listed between 12/23/2020 and 2/23/2021 (past 2 months), the following are the average days to accepted offer in the Back Bay, South End and Beacon Hill:
 

Under $1,000,000:  8.14 days

$1,000,000 - $1,999,999:  3.88 days

$2,000,000 - $2,999,999:  13.29 days

$3,000,000 and above: 15 days


On the market for less than 4 days on average, competition is extremely high for condos in the $1-2 million range.  Additionally, buyers are prioritizing outdoor space (especially private roof decks and patios).  The figures above are only for condos that have gone under agreement or sold, and there are units that are sitting on the market, but this data shows that buyers are out and looking this Spring.  

Connect with us if you are considering a move - we can set you up for immediate notifications and help you react quickly when you find your dream home.  With condos selling as quickly as they are, there is no time to snooze!

 


 

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Thinking of selling? Tips to prepare your home to put on the market

Spring market is the busiest time to sell homes and the 2021 spring market is fast approaching. According to local realtors spring market starts as early as March!

 

  • Start cleaning your home now
  • Take out the clutter
  • Pack grown up kids’ bedrooms
  • Interview realtors
  • Meet with stager or organizer
  • Do updates or repairs to improve value
  • Get quotes from moving companies
  • Remove personal items, family photos, etc.

 

The preparations you start now will pay off later and make for less work once the nice weather gets here.

Contact Cabot and Company to see how we can help make the process easier.

 

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Staying on Par Through the Winter

It’s one of the saddest days on the calendar, the day you have to put away the golf clubs.  It’s something our friends in warm-weather climates don’t understand, but those of us who call the northeast home feel the pain every year. Here in Boston, it can be tough to practice and keep from getting too rusty in the winter.  Golf is a feel game and it is important to keep the momentum going from season to season. You don’t want to lose your touch, right? So where can you go to stay sharp when you’re swinging a shovel instead of a seven-iron? Check out these local spots to keep your game up to par year round. 

 

 

City Golf Boston 
167 Milk St, Boston, MA 02109
https://citygolfboston.com

*Offering golf lesson for individuals or groups

*Golf Memberships - Includes unlimited golf lessons and unlimited use of simulator

 *Custom club fitting
 

Lynx Fitness Center 
64 Arlington St.  Boston, MA 02116
https://lynxfitnessclub.com/lynx-indoor-golf

*Boston’s first Top Golf suites

*Members and Non Members can reserve simulator for practice

*Lessons with PGA Professionals

*Private suite booking for events

 

McGolf
150 Bridge St, Dedham, MA 02026
https://www.mcgolfonline.com

*Radiant heated outdoor golf bays year round

*Fittings and lessons

*Members putting and chipping area

*Reserve golf simulator

 

Carpet Removal Made Simple

Do you have carpet that is old, with multiple stains and has collected the grime from city streets?  Are you ready for a change to wood flooring in one of the rooms in your condo or maybe the whole thing? It starts with ripping up the carpet, and you can save money by doing it yourself.

Here is a list of tools that you will need:
1.  Utility knife
2.  Vice grips or channel locks
3.  Crowbar or catspaw
4.  Dust mask
5.  Wood chisel 
6.  Hammer

Start by selecting an edge or a corner and use vice grips or channel locks to pull until the carpet is free from the underlayment (sponge-like material installed underneath the carpet). While using your dust mask, distribute your weight from your legs to your upper body and rip up a section of the carpet. From there, use a utility knife to cut the carpet into manageable pieces (recommend cutting every 4-6ft.) to facilitate an expedited and safe removal from your home. Once all the carpet is removed, there will remain underlayment. The underlayment will be stapled to the plywood substrate. The underlayment usually will not rip up clean, but in pieces. Try your best to pull carefully around the staples so the underlayment comes up in full sections. Use a wood chisel and channel locks to remove the staples that remain in the ply-wood. If some of the staples cannot be removed, use a hammer to embed the staples into the plywood. Once all underlayment is free, you will be left with a substrate ready to receive your new floor.

 

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