Sales

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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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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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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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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Why Title is So Important

Whether you are buying or selling, clear title is essential to the purchase or sale of real estate. “Dirty” or “bad” title can be fatal to a deal. Unlike the deed (a legal, physical document recorded in the Registry of Deeds), the title isn’t a piece of paper, but a concept that gives you ownership of the property. Without clear title, you generally cannot purchase, mortgage or sell it in the near future. Some common examples of title defects are improper title transfers, previously unknown heirs, state or local tax liens, estate complications, contractor/mechanic liens, boundary encroachments and liens from creditors, lenders and the IRS.

The GBREB's (Greater Boston Real Estate Board's) standard purchase and sale agreement form provides for what happens in a transaction if defective title is discovered. Clause 10 states the seller has 30 days to use reasonable efforts to clear the title. If the seller cannot deliver clear and marketable title within the 30 day period, the buyer may elect to withdraw from the contract without penalty.  

Sellers benefit by searching the title prior to listing their property for sale to ensure there are no title defects or other title issues. Buyers protect themselves by having their attorney search the title as soon as the purchase and sale agreement is signed, and by purchasing title insurance.

One of the key services that real estate attorneys provide is verifying that the title is good and marketable, thereby providing peace of mind to both buyer and seller. And the bank.

DISCLAIMER: This is provided for informational purposes only and is not offered as legal advice. Please consult an attorney to discuss your specific questions regarding title and other legal matters.

 

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Roadmap to Buying a Home in and around Boston

While the year 2020 has presented some major challenges for many people, there have been some upsides as well. For instance, interest rates have set record lows a few times this year, creating a rare opportunity, especially for first time home buyers. So what does the buying process look like in the Boston area?

Once you have spoken with your real estate agent and identified neighborhoods and types of properties you are interested in, and established a price range through your lender, here is a general overview*:

1. Start viewing homes.  Visiting open houses and viewing properties by appointment with your agent are both great ways to see available options. Our website is a great place to search homes available for sale in the Boston area.

2. Make an offer.  Once you’ve found a property you are interested in, make an offer. This is one of the most important steps in the process. Your real estate agent will provide you with a market analysis to help determine a price to offer, guide you through the various aspects such as timing and contingencies, and help position the offer as strongly as possible. Generally, a $1,000 deposit is due with the offer and the seller is usually given a 24 hour deadline to respond.

3. Home inspection.  When the offer is accepted, a home inspection is typically the next step, and usually takes place within 7-10 days of an accepted offer.

4. Review condominium documents (if applicable) and other items.  This is also the time when you generally review the condominium documents (if you are purchasing a condo). Your attorney should review them as well. The master deed, declaration of trust, rules and regulations, condo budget and recent condo meeting minutes can all provide important context on the building – for instance, is the association budgeting for capital improvements, are there any restrictions on renting out the condominium, are there are pet restrictions, etc. This usually takes place within 7-14 days of an accepted offer.

5. Sign the Purchase and Sale Agreement (P&S).  The P&S sets out, in greater detail than the offer, the terms of the purchase/sale. With the P&S, the deposit also increases – typically, the deposit is increased from the $1,000 deposit made with the offer to 5% of the purchase price (though this can vary greatly). Generally, the P&S is signed within around 14 days of the accepted offer. 

6. Obtain your mortgage commitment letter.  Throughout the process, you will be working with your lender to provide them the information that they need to approve the loan. The lender’s approval is given to you in a “commitment letter”, which they typically issue to you within 30-45 day of the accepted offer. Note that this timeframe varies depending on current processing times, so check with your lender. Commitment letters also typically contain conditions, so they are not a “guarantee” of financing – this is also something you should discuss with your lender. Here is a list of some common mistakes to avoid while your mortgage is in process.   

7. The final walk-through.  Usually done the day before or the morning of the closing, the final walk-through is a short visit to the property (usually 10-15 minutes) to ensure it is in the condition that was expected (e.g. any repairs that were required to be made have been done, furniture has been moved out, appliances are all still in place, etc.).

8. CLOSING!  This is when you sign A LOT of documents. But once the deed is recorded, the home is officially yours! 
 

* Please note that while this is a general outline, there is no one-size-fits-all. The steps, deposit amounts and timeframe will all vary case-by-case. Closings may happen quicker, for instance if you are paying with cash, or slower. For guidance on your particular transaction, have a discussion with your real estate professional. 

 

 

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Home Security Systems for Boston Condos and Apartments

In these uncertain times, a home security system can enhance safety and peace of mind for urban residents. Since COVID-19, many city-dwellers are working from home and have groceries and packages delivered. A personalized security system enables residents to check what’s taking place in and around their property through surveillance cameras and smart phone communication, whether they are staying at home or monitoring from afar.

There are 2 general types of security systems for condos and apartments: wireless systems (DIY & unmonitored) and traditional (professionally monitored and hardwired).  Here are some pros and cons of each:
 

WIRELESS SYSTEMS

PROS:
1. Easy and fast install
2. Hooks up to smart phones for increased access and control
3. Portable security cameras and ability to see activity in your home from smart phone or tablet
4. Minimal equipment
5. Short contracts

CONS:
1. Electro-magnetic interference from other devices make these systems less reliable and easier to get hacked
2. Battery operated
3. You’re on call
 

HARDWIRED SYSTEMS

PROS: 
1. More reliable
2. Can be hidden in walls, ceilings and floors
3. Service company on call

CONS:
1. Installation done by professional
2. More expensive
3. Long-term contracts, less flexibility
4. May require approval of condo association or landlord


This NBC News article gives a nice overview and review of some home security system options.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Making a Home Office in Boston More “Workable”

As many offices have been closed for several months – and some expected to remain that way for the next several months – many workers have had to scramble to set up home offices.  For many in Boston, where space is at a premium, that wasn’t part of the plan when they were searching for their homes.  Here are a few useful tips we have seen/heard/implemented:

1.  Find the Best Spot in Your Home
If you live in a “cozy” apartment, this can be a challenge.  Sitting on your bed or on your couch is not ideal if you’re going to be working for an extended period.  If you don’t have any room to spare, the dining table or breakfast bar may be best.  Another good option can be a “corner desk”, which can work well in tight spaces.

2.  Comfortable Seating
Unless you have a standing desk, we spend a lot of time sitting.  Chairs in the office sometimes get a bad rap, but they tend to be relatively ergonomic.  A good chair can be a solid investment.

3.  Increase Internet Speed
Most of us weren’t planning to work from home full-time for an extended period.  Especially if you share your home with others, there may not be enough bandwidth for everyone’s phones, tablets, laptops and TVs to all be running simultaneously – especially if people are streaming music or videos or videoconferencing.

4.  Improve Lighting
Speaking of videoconferencing, lighting is an important consideration.  Working in a dark corner might make the most sense space-wise, but if you’re going to be videoconferencing, then a small lamp should help ensure your colleagues and clients can see you.  Unless you’re going for that doom-and-gloom vibe.

5.  Set Up Your Workstation like Your Office
You’re at home… it doesn’t “feel” like the office.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it can impact your ability to get into the type of rhythm that you can have while at your office.  Organizing your work area with all of your necessary supplies nearby – and eliminating distractions (give Netflix the pleasure of being right that you are NOT still watching) – can help.

BONUS TIP: FIND A NEW HOME WITH YOUR IDEAL HOME-OFFICE SET-UP
It is looking increasingly likely that working from home will be part of the “new normal” for some time.  More and more companies seem to be looking for ways to let employees work remotely.  If the past few months have been a struggle to find space in your home to squeeze in a workspace, or perhaps your roommates are on different schedules which is creating other challenges, then maybe it’s time to explore options.  

Whether you want to search for a new home to rent or search for a home to purchase with room for an office, we can help!  Feel free to dive right in and look around.  But you can also contact us and one of our experienced agents can help serve as your guide.

 

 

Boston Condos with Private Outdoor Space

Private outdoor space in the City can be like having your own private, urban oasis.  In Boston, condos can feature a variety of types of private outdoor space.  They can range from roof decks to ground-level patios to balconies.  Some terraces are exquisitely landscaped.  Others are more minimalist in their design.  All, though, offer some fresh air in a spot that you can call your own! 

What should you look for in private outdoor space for your next Boston home?  Something that appeals to you and that you enjoy to use!  Private roof decks offer incredible views.  Private patios may provide your own area to grill.  

If you want to search for Boston condos with private outdoor space, you can start here.  

As always, you can also reach out to our team.  With our years of experience, we can help hone in on the options that best match what you’re looking for!

 

 

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