The Best Holiday Events in Greater Boston

by c21commonweath_ldowling 16. December 2019 08:00

Since the 17th century, Boston has been home to people and celebrations of every description. If you love the holidays, Boston is arguably the best place to experience the season.

Beacon Hill Holiday Stroll

In a historic city like Boston, there is always a lot to see. Sometimes, you just have to slow down. Beacon Hill invites people of all ages to experience the holidays in Boston the way it was 200 years ago. Charles Street will be temporarily closed to cars and open for a brass quintet, horse and buggy rides, and Victorian carolers.

Boston Blink! Light and Sound Show

Imagine the greatest holiday-themed light show you’ve ever seen and you’ll get an idea of what Blink! is all about. This show runs every half hour from 4:30 – 10:00 pm, every day, from December 3rd through January 1st. The show features over 350,000 LED lights synchronized with traditional holiday music. This event is especially great for kids or anyone still young at heart.

Img Source: https://faneuilhallmarketplace.com/

Boston Tea Party Annual Reenactment

On December 16th, history buffs can relive a pivotal moment in America’s formation. First, you'll gather at the Old South Meeting House. Next, a fife and drum corps will lead a march to Griffin's Wharf. The event is free and open to the public, but ticket holders have access to a few extra perks. You can get all the information here.

First Night New Year’s Eve Celebration

After all the festivities of the Christmas season, Boston still has one more treat in store. Join over 1 million partygoers in Copley Square to ring in the new year in style. Events include a parade, plenty of live music, ice sculptures by local artists, and two fabulous firework shows. If you’re anywhere near Boston for New Year’s Eve, this is a can’t-miss event.

Frog Pond Ice Skating

Nothing says “winter wonderland” like an afternoon of ice skating. The Boston Common Frog Pond is in a prime location, making it easy to add ice skating to a day of shopping, a trip to the movie theater, or even a romantic night out. Visit the Frog Pond website to get more information.

Photo by Mark Hunt, markhuntart.com Img Source: https://bostonfrogpond.com/

Holiday Pops

The Boston Pops Orchestra is famous around the world. Every year, they run a special holiday show. There are four shows every weekend, along with several Holiday Pops matinees perfect for the kids, who can have their picture taken with Santa after the show. The Holiday Pops show is an experience you'll remember forever, and it’s the perfect gift for the music lovers in your life. There is no better place than Boston to enjoy the holidays. Whether you are looking for the oldest traditions or the most modern experience, you'll find them here.

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Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays

by c21commonweath_ldowling 12. December 2019 11:51

The holidays are here again, which probably means you’ve got a long list of things to do before your guests come over to celebrate. If you’re planning a dinner or holiday party and you’re feeling short on time, don’t worry. Now might not be the best time for major upgrades, but there are a few simple things you can do to make your home a more comfortable and welcoming environment this winter.

Clean Up

Make sure all the communal spaces in your house are clean, if not spotless. You can brighten up the bathroom by spraying hydrogen peroxide on top of countertops to get rid of stains. Place flowers or festive decorations on counters and shelves to add some flair.

Since you’ll likely spend a lot of time in the kitchen this season, check your appliances to make sure they’re all in good working order. Test all your stove burners, clean out the refrigerator, and make sure the dishwasher can get all the grime off your plates. Now is also a good time to sharpen your kitchen knives so they’ll be ready when you cook the holiday feast.

Kid-Proof the Place

If you’re hosting the holiday gathering this year, you might have more young children in your house than you’re used to. Think about making some temporary rearrangements so the kids have a safe space to be their rambunctious selves.

If your guests are bringing a baby, turn your spare bedroom or office into a nursing room. For toddlers and young children, set up a play area in the corner of the living room with toys, books, pillows, and maybe a TV. Older kids might get a kick out of helping in the kitchen—invite them to stir the pot or set the table. For dessert, prepare a batch of cookie dough ahead of time so the kids can have fun with baking and decorating cookies.

Last but not least, remember to put away any expensive items that could be damaged by children running around.

Light Up the Exterior

Nothing makes a home feel inviting like a well-lit entryway, and the holidays are a great opportunity to get creative with your display. If you celebrate Christmas, traditional green and red lights always look good around windows or lining a walkway. Hanukkah-themed lights tend to be blue and white, and you may find a pretty display in the shape of a menorah or Star of David.

No matter what holiday you celebrate, classic winter white is always a solid lighting option—glowing “icicles” hanging from your eave will look nice well into January. Once you’ve taken care of all the holiday lighting, check up on your everyday lights too. Make sure your porch light and any others lighting the driveway have fresh bulbs.

The holidays are stressful for some, but the feeling of being with family in a clean and cozy home is always worth a little legwork. Good luck with your holiday housekeeping—we hope you have a wonderful time celebrating.

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Natick’s Colonial Homes

by c21commonweath_ldowling 9. December 2019 13:39

First settled in 1651 by John Eliot, Natick was one of the many colonies governed by Britain before the United States achieved independence. Today, the town’s architecture reflects these moments in time with details and features representative of American colonialism.

Features of American Colonial Homes

Traditional American colonial-style homes look like the homes early colonists lived in before they left England. They’re simple, rectangular, and symmetrical. Most of these houses have two stories, steep roofs, and a centered front door with an equal number of windows above and on each side of the entryway. There are usually fireplaces at both ends of the home, an architectural detail that speaks to the style’s practical form.

While traditional American colonial homes fell out of favor around the time of the American Revolution, architects continued to incorporate some of their key elements into later designs. Many modern homes in Natick include beautiful colonial details that represent an important part of New England culture.

Modern Colonial Homes in Natick

Prospective buyers will be pleased to find modern colonial homes on the market in Natick and throughout the Greater Boston area. Their common architectural details include:

  • Front entrances supported by columns or pilasters 
  • Large porches
  • Central doorways with the same number of windows placed on each side
  • Gambrel or gabled roofs
  • Open floor plans

 If you’re searching for a home with these recognizable features, you’re in luck. Here are just a few of the colonial houses currently for sale in Natick.

217 Bacon Street 
This newly built home includes four bedrooms, three and a half baths, a gourmet kitchen, a finished basement, and tons of closet space. Its exterior is painted white with a black front door and finishing touches, adding a touch of sophistication to a traditional design.

31 Pleasant Street

This custom-built modern colonial home includes five bedrooms, four and a half baths, a high-end chef’s kitchen, three fireplaces, and a beautiful entryway framed with columns. If you want a large space, either for your family or to entertain guests, this could be the home for you.

112 Glen Street
This modern colonial home is situated on two acres of land, with spectacular views of scenic South Natick. The inside includes high ceilings, coffered and beam detailing, and raised panel woodwork. Five bedrooms and six bathrooms provide ample space for you and your family.

Search for Modern Colonial Homes in Natick

The Greater Boston area is known for its American-colonial architecture. If you’re searching for a colonial home in Natick, use our property search tool to find where you deserve to be.

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Biking in the Bay State

by c21commonweath_ldowling 5. December 2019 13:33

Massachusetts is known for its academic institutions, burgeoning tech scene, and rich sense of history, but did you know it’s also one of the most cycling-friendly states in the country?

According to the League of American Bicyclists, Massachusetts excels in adopting programs and policies that promote safe biking and walking, and the state provides the funding and infrastructure needed for safer biking paths.  

If you want to bike to work, the grocery store, or the local farmer’s market, you’ll be pleased to find designated bike paths throughout Boston (and the state at large), making your commute safer and more fun.

Biking Stats

Massachusetts residents and visitors are lucky to be in communities that provide the space and infrastructure necessary for everyday biking, where most biking routes aren’t that long. The National Household Travel Survey estimates that 52% of all trips taken are only three miles or less—the perfect cycling distance (or at least a short one)!

In fact, many of the state’s residents claim they’d prefer biking to specific places, like work or the grocery store, over other methods of transportation. After surveying 2,246 residents, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation found: 

  • 56% of rural respondents want to bike to work and 55% want to bike to nearby parks.
  • 59% of those surveyed in suburban areas want to bike to work and 48% want to bike to shopping centers.
  • 78% of urban respondents want to bike to work and 48% want to bike to shopping centers.

To create even more convenient, safe, and accessible bike paths, The League of American Bicyclists recommends that the state adopts certain laws to ensure biker safety, including:

  • A safe passing law that requires drivers to leave at least three feet of space between their vehicles and cyclists when passing them on the road.
  • A law that allows municipalities to enforce a speed limit of 20 miles per hour on streets with advisory bike lanes.

By making small changes like these, the state will continue to lead the way in investing in safer bikeways and walkways. Massachusetts already ranks fifth out of all 50 states for infrastructure and funding, with hundreds of millions of dollars recently spent on developing and maintaining safer shared paths, trails, and bikeways. For this reason, Massachusetts has seen fewer bicycling-related fatalities compared to years past.

Explore Boston’s Trails and Bike Paths

Massachusetts is home to many bikeways and walkways that guide locals and visitors alike to their final destinations—Boston alone boasts a 50-mile bike lane network. Click here for an overview of popular bike paths and trails throughout Boston and the surrounding areas.

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What Should You Take with You While Moving?

by c21commonweath_ldowling 3. December 2019 16:01

Are you unsure of what items to leave behind during a move? If you have a myriad of hefty household objects, furniture, and equipment on your property, you may wonder what’s worth keeping and what you should leave for the newcomers.

Your convenience isn’t the only factor. Buyers expect to own certain items on the property when they write the offer letter, unless negotiated otherwise. Luckily, there are some rules of thumb you can follow when deciding what to leave and what to take. 

To Pack or Not to Pack

To ensure a smooth and lawsuit-free move, most real estate agents recommend their clients stick to certain guidelines regarding what stays and goes. Here’s how each of these household items fits into the de facto code of conduct.

Built-In Fixtures

It’s common knowledge that a house’s fixtures (its built-in elements) should stay put. If something is nailed down, bolted, or mounted, it likely stays with the home. These items include lighting fixtures, built-in air conditioners, and other immovable items like hardwired alarms that connect to the electrical system.

If you’re not sure if an item is considered an immovable fixture, document your decision to keep it or leave it in your lease. Mounting devices for big-screen TVs, for example, are technically mounted into the wall but are part of a movable item. Let buyers know up-front if you’ll be taking items like these to avoid conflict down the road.

Appliances

The refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and washer and dryer aren’t considered fixtures because they’re not permanently mounted to anything. While you may want to take these items with you, consider negotiating them into the sale. Many homeowners (especially new ones) want the convenience of purchasing a home with appliances already included.

Outdoor Items

Sheds, basketball hoops, and anything else anchored to the ground should stay, but freestanding objects like lawn chairs and umbrellas can go. If you’re no longer attached to these items, consider including them in your sale to help make your newcomers feel more welcome. Basketball hoops in the front yard encourage kids to play outside and meet their neighbors, while backyard sheds provide more room for gardening enthusiasts to store tools, potting soil, and more.

Tip: You can’t just dig up your plants and take them with you. Landscaping, unless specified in your lease, is considered an outdoor fixture!

Window Treatments

While curtains are considered personal property, curtain rods, fixtures, and blinds fall under the immovable fixtures category. If you’re confused about what you’re allowed to take, just remember the “built-in” rule. Is the object mounted to the wall, or is it easily removable without the use of hardware? 

you’re no longer in love with your curtains (and you don’t have blinds), leave them behind for the new owner. Even if they don’t keep them long-term, they’ll appreciate having privacy before unpacking their own window coverings.

Negotiate Wisely

Now that you have a better idea of what you can and cannot take with you when you move, think about whether or not the items you’ll leave behind merit a higher asking price. A professional real estate agent can help you decide on a price that’s fair for both you and your buyers. If you’re not attached to that washing machine, let it stay with the house—it might just get you more bang for your buck.

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Sustainability Efforts in Wellesley

by c21commonweath_ldowling 26. November 2019 17:24

Wellesley, Massachusetts is a nationwide leader in sustainability among American communities. In 2008, a group of volunteers founded a grassroots organization called Sustainable Wellesley to encourage actions that lead to sustainability in Wellesley and the surrounding area. 

Making Wellesley Sustainable

Sustainable Wellesley is driven to improve sustainability in three key areas:

Improving Efficiency

Improved efficiency means both using and generating power wisely. In 2012, The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources awarded Wellesley the title of Green Power Community, reflecting their commitment to sustainable energy. 

Promoting Recycling

Recycling waste is a good first step, but communities can do more. In Wellesley, the municipal leadership also promotes reducing waste and reusing trash.

Reducing Waste

City living produces a great deal of pollution. Wellesley is committed to green energy, which has led to a 20% reduction in their carbon footprint.

Protecting Natural Resources

Nature has blessed Wellesley with an abundance of natural resources, of which green spaces are arguably the most important yet underappreciated. Many studies have shown that people are happier and healthier when they have access to open space. In Wellesley, the city council has mandated that all subdivisions with five or more lots must dedicate at least 50% of their acreage to open space. 

The city government does not leave the space empty, however. They encourage people to use and enjoy it by adding community gardens and other features. There is also an expansive trail network, featuring 26 miles of trails that connect open spaces throughout the community.

Promoting Involvement

Sustainable Wellesley regularly hosts events designed to educate and inform the public about sustainability. Topics range from mundane subjects such as composting to offering advice for locals who want to run for office and make changes at the governmental level. 

If we want to achieve sustainability in our country, we must all take action at the local level. Sustainable Wellesley is leading the charge. Superior environmental health is just one of many reasons why Wellesley and other Boston-area communities offer their residents an excellent quality of life.

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Must-See Museums and Libraries in Watertown

by c21commonweath_ldowling 25. November 2019 13:21

Watertown Museums and Libraries

English Puritans founded Watertown, Massachusetts in 1630. For nearly 400 years, the city has been in the thick of American history. During the Revolutionary War, the Watertown Minutemen stopped the advance of the British Redcoats on their march to Concord. During the industrial age, researcher Frederick Taylor pioneered the field of scientific management in Watertown.

This history is still reflected in the town’s character today. It's no surprise that there's plenty to do and see in Watertown. Here’s a list of six cultural touchstones that help make Watertown a rewarding place to live.

Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library

The Perkins School for the Blind is the oldest institution of its type in the United States. This school was founded in 1829 with the goal of educating blind students, who had few opportunities in those times. The Perkins Braille and Talking Book Library celebrates this institution’s rich history. Whether or not you or your family members have a visual impairment, this library is something everyone should experience.

The Dorothy and Charles Mosesian Center for the Arts

The history, scenery, and architecture of Watertown make it a natural destination for artists. This community arts center hosts art events for people of all ages. If you’re passionate about admiring or creating art, this place is for you.

Gore Place

Gore Place served as the summerhouse of the lawyer and politician Christopher Gore beginning in 1806. In its heyday, the country hose hosted 19th-century celebrities like the Marquis de Lafayette, James Monroe, and Daniel Webster, among others. Today, this 45-acre property is open to the public. Admission to the grounds is free, and tours of the house are available for a small charge.

Armenian Library and Museum of America

The Armenian Museum houses the largest collection of Armenian cultural exhibits in the United States, including a collection of audio recordings made by survivors of the Armenian genocide. This exhibit honors the tragedy with a grim but unforgettable look at a dark moment in human history.

Edmund Fowle House and Museum

The Edmund Fowle House, built in 1772, was a meeting place for the Massachusetts Provincial Congress during the Revolutionary War. This is a fantastic place to learn about Watertown’s role in our nation’s battle for independence.

The Plumbing Museum

This museum is dedicated to the underappreciated field of plumbing. Most of us only think about plumbing when we have a problem, but without the experts in the field, our lives would be much less pleasant and convenient.

Watertown, Massachusetts has witnessed many of the most interesting events in American history. The six places mentioned here are just the tip of the iceberg.

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Buying a Home in a Seller's Market

by c21commonweath_ldowling 20. November 2019 15:19

Buying a Home in a Seller's Market

Imagine that you’ve already decided to move to a new city. You're ready to buy a home, but there's a problem: The city you're moving to is a hot market for real estate. You need a place to live, but is buying in a seller's market really a good idea?

 
In a seller's market, there aren't enough homes available for everyone looking to buy. Competition drives prices up and can lead to bidding wars. Fortunately, if you want to buy a house in a seller's market, there are steps you can take to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
 

Get Started Right Away

When you're buying a home in a seller's market, there's a lot of competition. If you hesitate, there's a good chance someone else will close on the home you are thinking about. Be smart about things—still do your research and talk to a realtor, but remember that if you wait too long, you could miss out.
 

Include a Personal Letter

Sellers in a hot market are likely to get quite a few offers on their homes. As a buyer, making your offer stand out from the competition could make the difference between moving in and moving on.

 

One thing you can do to set yourself apart is write a personal letter to the seller. It doesn't have to be fancy or formal. You just want to express to the seller why you would be the perfect buyer for their home.

 

Start with a Strong Offer

When you're in a seller's market, it's not the time to make a lowball offer and negotiate to a final price. This is a near-certain way of losing a home to another buyer. A local realtor is your best friend in this situation. They’ll know the market and can help you decide on the right price.

 

Get Preapproved

Before you make an offer, make sure you're ready to follow through. Some buyers have the cash on hand to buy a home, but most of them need financing. If you'll need a loan, getting preapproved is an essential step. You’ll learn exactly how much you can spend and let sellers know that you’re serious.
 

Skip the Contingencies

If you're in a buyer's market, you have some power over the seller. Asking them to do a little extra to close the deal is reasonable. If you're in a seller's market, however, including contingencies will probably send your offer straight to the wastebasket.

 
When you're buying a home in a seller's market, you might feel like you're at a disadvantage. The good news is that sellers want to sell. With some preparation, good advice, and a little luck, you can get into the home you've been dreaming about.

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Buying an Investment Property

by c21commonweath_ldowling 18. November 2019 12:45

Are you thinking of buying a house as an investment? While most experts will tell you that buying a home you plan to live in probably isn't the best investment idea, buying separate investment properties makes sense for many people.


Whether you're buying a house to keep as a rental or you're just planning for a quick flip, there are a few things to consider before making the purchase. Here are our top four tips for finding the right investment property:

Location, Location, Location

It’s one of the oldest clichés in real estate, but no attribute matters more than location. It's the one thing about the property you can't change. If your investment property is in a bad location, no amount of renovations, upgrades, or improvements can fix the area—in fact, having the best house in the neighborhood can hurt you in the long run. Consider the location and be smart about your purchase.
 

The Cost of Maintenance

Every home needs regular maintenance, and maintenance costs money. If you're able to do the repairs yourself, you can save some cash, but be realistic about your abilities. If the projected cost of maintaining your property substantially lowers your expected ROI, the best move is to walk away.
 

Condition of the Property

If a property is in poor condition, it doesn't necessarily mean you should pass on it. A house in poor condition could go for an especially low price. A smart buyer can even use the home’s condition as leverage in their negotiation. For some buyers, especially those looking to flip houses, buying a fixer-upper is the most intelligent choice.

 

Estimated Return on Investment

Before you make any investment, whether you're buying real estate, stocks, or even a set of collectible Red Sox plates, it's important to consider the expected return. If you're buying a rental, you must compare the income you receive in rent to the cost of maintenance, property tax, and other expenses. For a flip house, you’ll estimate the cost of repairs, upgrades, and selling the home and weigh it against your expected profit.

 
Whether you're looking for a rental or you want to get into house flipping, buying investment property has proven successful for many—however, it can be risky. Before you sign that contract, make sure the property is right for you.

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Things to Consider When Selling a Rental Property

by c21commonweath_ldowling 14. November 2019 11:36

Do you own a rental property? You probably considered the investment potential when you bought it, but what if it doesn't pay off as much as you hoped it would?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individual investors own nearly 75% of rental properties. Most real estate investors recommend holding onto properties for the long term, but that doesn't make the strategy right for everyone.

When Should I Sell?

Most real estate investors keep their eye on market trends and let the conditions govern their investment strategy. However, when you own a rental property, there are other factors to consider, such as your financial position and maintenance needs. Only you can know if it’s time to sell your rental property, but there are some signs that could drive your decision. Here are five indicators that it may be time to sell:

You've Built Significant Equity

If you've owned your property for a long time or your property has appreciated significantly since you purchased it, you could cash out and pocket your profits. This especially makes sense when you're expecting a downturn in the market.

There Are Other Demands on Your Time

All of us are busy. Whether you have a new job, you're caring for an elderly family member, or you just want to take a long vacation, you may not want to take the time to manage your rental property any longer. Your time is yours, so you should spend it in a way that makes sense for you.

You'd Rather Invest Your Money Somewhere Else

Investing in real estate isn't right for everyone. If you'd rather invest in the stock market, precious metals, or a new business, selling your rental property could free up your capital.

Your Property Needs Extra Maintenance

Depending on your market, managing a rental property can have thin margins. If the time and money you spend on maintenance are becoming too great, it might make sense to sell your property and move on.

Buyer Demand is High

Real estate demand is flexible. If your area is experiencing a boom, selling now could be a great financial move. Like the proverb says, it's best to strike while the iron is hot.

Rental properties can be a lucrative investment, but they may require time and resources you’d rather invest somewhere else. If any of these scenarios seem familiar to you, it may be the right time to sell.

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