Commonwealth Connection: Online Tools That Work For You

by c21commonweath_ldowling 4. November 2014 13:46

Given the volume of web tools and mobile apps on the market today for real estate agents, it’s not always easy to select the most useful applications. This blog entry shares some of the web and mobile tools that can make your work easier, so you can focus on selling.

File share smarts

The two most popular online file sharing systems are Dropbox and Google Drive. But which one is better? If you need to share files quickly with clients, Dropbox might be the right tool for you. That’s because Dropbox is designed for quick sharing and storage. With Dropbox’s encrypted protection feature, it’s easy to send a secure link to a client or prospective buyers so they can access anything they might need, immediately.

 

By comparison, Google Drive is ideal for collaborative projects because the system updates and tracks shared files in real time. If you and other agents need to work on the same document at the same time, Google Drive lets you do that no matter where you are.

Spam be gone!

What’s more annoying than hundreds of email subscriptions jamming up your inbox? There’s a tool that can help. Unroll.me sifts through subscriptions that are associated with your account and cancel the ones you don’t want instantly. Unroll.me works by compiling automatic email subscriptions and allowing you unsubscribe to unwanted updates with a single click.

One caveat: Unroll.me only works for emails hosted on Google, Yahoo! and Outlook.com (i.e., it is not compatible with Microsoft Exchange)

Vmail with ease

Many experts believe that Video Emails will revolutionize real estate listings because they allow for immediate sharing of virtual property tours. One platform that is making waves in the realty industry is Bomb-Bomb, a video app that allows you to create property tours at the palm of your hands.

 The app lets you drop and drag photos of your listing into a template and then create a video incorporating all of the images you have taken at the property. With open rates of 67%, this tool is useful for direct marketing to longstanding clients as well as potential customers.

Social visibility

Every wished that you could you create a digital video property tour and upload it immediately to your social marketing platforms, including Facebook and Twitter? Welcome to the future, courtesy of Tout.

Tout’s mobile publishing platform means you can post videos instantly to any digital platform, including websites, other mobile apps and social media. The app works on IOS and Android as well as desktop through a proprietary webcam publisher available at Tout.com. 

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Commonwealth Community Profile: Newton

by c21commonweath_ldowling 10. October 2014 10:47

Newton Massachusetts is home to the Boston College Eagles, the historic Brae Burn Country Club, and as the home of notable people from a range of disciplines, including drama (actors Jack Lemmon, Matt LeBlanc, and John Krasinski), literary arts (Isaac Asimov, David Mamet) and comedy (Louis C.K.). It is also the home of legendary corporate leaders such as Robert Kraft and Sumner Redstone.

One of the little known facts about Newton is that it is one of the state’s larger cities, with 85,150 residents (11th most populous) and 18.2 square miles of territory (29th largest.) The community offers MBTA access to Boston (bus, subway and commuter rail), low crime rate, high-ranking schools and more recently, ‘green’ energy standards (in 2012, Newton announced that it purchases all of its energy via clean energy generation.)

No wonder the city was recently named the “Best City to Live In” by a national financial news and opinion outlet!

Newton remains one of the nation’s oldest communities (it was settled in 1630) and boasts a historically rich past as one of America’s earliest commuter suburbs (located 7 miles from downtown Boston, it’s easy to see why.)

The suburb’s convenient location makes it a hotspot for real estate, with the average 2014 home price valued at $819, 600, up 7% increase from 2013.

For more information about Newton listings, contact manager Greg Kiely at (617) 969-2121.

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Luxury 101: Three Tips to Move Mansions

by c21commonweath_ldowling 2. October 2014 16:08

As the price of a home increases, real estate agents face greater challenges when seeking to sell them. Catering to buyers who know what they want and have money to spend means doing everything possible to highlight the appeal of a luxury home. While beauty always is in the eye of the beholder, there are three things to keep in mind when listing a luxe property that will help move it quickly to “sold.” 

(Image viabayviewbuilders.com)

1. The price must be right

Selling luxury does not mean that price is no object. In fact, pricing can be even more crucial when dealing with sophisticated, educated and sometimes competitive buyers who are driven by the idea of ‘winning.’ The best approach means listing the property at a price based on a reasonable structure. Remember: overpriced properties are likely to drive buyers away and may even freeze out a splurge buyer. The average luxury home sits on the market longer than a more moderately priced home, which in a strong market, is less than 45 days on average in Eastern Massachusetts. The easiest way to set an appropriate starting price for a luxury property is by conducting a thorough comparative market analysis. By looking carefully at prices of similar homes that were recently in your community, even the fanciest home can be priced appropriately in line with your overall sales strategy. 

 

(Image via realestatecrm.biz)

2. Staging for gazing

Staging helps minimize a home’s time on the market, regardless of price point. For luxury listings, this means emphasizing the elegant elements of home. Formal dining rooms must be set with formal china, sterling silver place settings and crystal goblets. Outdoor amenities such as garden terraces, patios, porticos and outdoor dining areas must be immaculate. Bedrooms must exude elegance with items like plush down pillows, gorgeous quilts, and stylized accessories like mirrors, chests and armoires. Remember the golden rule of luxury staging: demonstrating the extravagance of a home can’t help but impress potential buyers. 

 

(Image via lushome.com)

3. A picture is worth much more than a thousand words

Luxury buyers are human. The things they see will make an impress. That’s why every luxury home must be marketed with superior photos shot using professional-level equipment in the most flattering lighting possible. In fact, splurging on a professional photographer is recommended for any property over $2 million. Staged lighting, high-speed cameras and a professional photographer’s inmate style and touch will yield images that emphasize the finery and amenities within the property while highlighting its unique selling points. 

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Three Fall Staging Tips to Wow Buyers

by c21commonweath_ldowling 30. September 2014 18:26

Autumn appeal for potential home buyers is adding a touch of flair to your staging décor. Warm scents, fall foliage hues, and inviting lighting accents provide elegant ways to ensure that a home leaves a lasting impression. Check out these three staging tips that will charm and delight buyers in a tastefully appropriate manner.

Come and knock on our door

Upping a property’s wow factor starts at the front doorway. Consider lining the steps with gourds of varying shapes and sizes. For a splash of color, incorporate an arrangement of potted chrysanthemums in bronze, yellow, burnt orange, and white. Spruce up the door itself by hanging a harvest wreath complete with vibrant foliage like leaves, myrtle, oat, wheat and berries.

Image via Unskinnyboppy.com

Seasonal Scents

The smell of pumpkin spice and warm cinnamon apples are synonymous with autumn. These comforting and nostalgic scents make a house feel cozy and warm. Popular varieties include Yankee Candle’s Bay Leaf Wreath, Apple Spice, or Pumpkin Ginger Bark, all which make a space feel homier. Candles should be displayed in a fall arrangement by placing them in glass trifle bowl and laying them atop a bed of artificial leaves.

Image via Figuringouthome.wordpress.com

Let there be light

As the crisp autumn weather rolls in and daylight wanes, agents are presented with the challenge of brightening up homes during evening showings. To make lighting inviting for tours at dusk or at night, using soft tones is a must. Avoid fluorescent lights and use bulbs with gentler hues to create an ambient and familiar atmosphere.

Image via Interior-Design-It-Yourself.com

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Donation Centers Give Furniture a New Life

by c21commonweath_ldowling 25. September 2014 17:54

Making a house a home takes work. Filling family rooms and mantles with photos of friends and family, decorations and most importantly – furniture, breathes life into the household and the family who live there. Throughout the moving process, real estate agents often encounter buyers and sellers who find themselves with excess furniture. Whether they are downsizing to a smaller home or undertaking an interior design overhaul, excess chairs, sofas and the like can pose a logistical challenge. Fortunately, there’s a simple solution- organizations like NewLife Home Refurnishing gladly accept gently-used furniture that can be distributed to a family in need.

NewLife Home Refurnishing, which is based in Medfield, MA with a furniture collection site in Walpole, MA, has partnered with the Commonwealth team for many years with agents from Medfield volunteering to sort through collected items. The not-for-profit organization provides furniture to people who have fallen on tough economic times, victims of fire or flood, veterans, refugees, and many more in need. The organization also accepts a wide range of donations from mattresses to desks to cooking utensils. For those who don’t have furniture to donate, but would still like to help, NewLife accepts tax-deductible monetary donations.

Real Estate agents are in an ideal position to help non-profits like NewLife thrive. Clients who are looking to get rid of furniture throughout the home buying/selling process often welcome help in taking unwanted or unneeded furniture off their hands. Agents who are interested in learning more about how clients can donate goods, please visit: http://www.newlifehr.org.

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Fall Foliage Trips

by c21commonweath_ldowling 3. September 2014 18:32

Fall is one of the most exciting times to be in New England, and justifiably so. Nothing quite compares to the crisp fall weather, crackle of leaves below, and the stunning foliage that can be seen all around the homes of Boston area towns and the New England countryside.

boston houses

If you are looking to take a weekend roadtrip, the following towns have some of the most marvelous landscapes for viewing. Check out our list below and let us know your favorites!

Lake Waramaug in October

Near Litchfield, Connecticut, Lake Waramaug is located near Mt. Tom. The colors in the fall are so beautiful that Connecticut’s official Department of Environmental Protection website provides daily updates on the foliage for visitors.

The Berkshires

Massachusetts' very own Berkshires offer a vast landscape of fall colors. It's great for hiking, strolling, camping, and canoeing. The Mohawk Trail in Massachusetts shines in the fall and is perfect for a drive. There are many great towns to stop in for shopping and dining, too.

Vermont

If you're in the mood for a long drive, take a trip down the Kancamagus Highway in Vermont. It's particularly breathtaking in early October. You can count yourself among the "leaf peepers," a colloquial term for people who travel to take in the foliage.

Boston

If you live in a Boston home, you don’t have to travel far to find places that show off New England’s natural colors. The Boston Common and Public Garden are fantastic leafy places for a stroll. The Esplanade along the Charles River is great for walking, running, and biking with a background of vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows. You can dive deeper into fall by visiting the Arnold Arboretum, where you can learn about the trees that most captivate you and sip a cider from the visitor center after your tour.

Do you have places near your Boston home that you love to visit? Spots off the beaten path you love to tour in the fall? Let us know in the comments!

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Things to Do in Boston in August

by c21commonweath_ldowling 8. August 2014 18:42

Although summer is coming to an end, there is still no shortage of things to do in Boston, from theatre, to festivals, to sports games, Boston continues to offer events that you won’t want to miss out on, and here is just a short list.

 

Shakespeare on the Common 2014

The Boston Common is a wonderful outdoor space, to relax at night and enjoy some theatre or some music! From right now until August 10th, the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company will present Twelth Night. This year Shakespeare on the Common is also offering special concerts that will take place before the plays so don’t forget to get there early, and admission is totally free!

Festivals and Feasts

Boston GreenFest 2014 – From August 15th to 17th at Boston City Hall Plaza, you can visit this festival for free and have fun while learning about what is you can do in your home and neighborhood to address the important changes we need to make for the environment!

St. Anthony’s Feast – From August 29th to 31st, St. Anthony’s Feast, that has been celebrates since 1919, will be taking place in New England. All entertainment is free and open to the public, and while you’re there you’ll have to try the delicious food because after all, this is the largest Italian Religious Festival in New England!

 

5th Annual Mass Brewers Fest – On August 29th the Seaport World Trade Center will turn into a brewery for the day! This fest will offer more that 100 styles of local beer to sample, so come out, celebrate local craft beer, and drink a cold one!

 

Summer Dine Out Boston 2014

For 2 weeks in August, Boston turns into a place that will allow you to try all those little restaurants you’ve wanted to try, but just never had the chance! Local restaurants offer a limited number of items for lunch and dinner at a specified low price! So go around Boston and try all these delicious cuisines! 

Red Sox Games

Of course, with the summer wrapping up, we can’t forget to catch at least one more Red Sox Game! In August we still have 3 more teams to play at home, the Astros, the Angels, and the Mariners, so get out there and cheer your Red Sox on!

New England Patriots Pre-Season

 

Football time has arrived! Break out the tailgating gear and head down to Gillette Stadium to watch the Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles and the Carolina Panthers in week 2 and 3 of the 2014 NFL preseason!

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Agent Primers

by c21commonweath_ldowling 25. July 2014 10:39

Agent Primer: Google Glass for Realtors

Google Glass is the search and Internet giant’s self-described “smart glasses.” The best way to describe the device is as a smart phone worn on your face. Many experts believe Google Glass will revolutionize the real estate market, both for buyers and sellers.

The $1500 glasses became available to the public in May 2014. Smart Glasses applications enable realtors, while wearing the device, to live stream a tour of any property from a first-person perspective. The viewer on the other end sees what the seller sees as they move around the house. The buyer experiences a personal, one-on-one tour of the property—even if they are halfway across the world.

Google Glass

This innovation is game-changing for realtors showing to clients who wish to pre-screen a property in a high level of detail or who are unable to travel to see every home. Generic photos and video home tours cannot capture the property as meticulously as Google Glass.

The tours are shot hands-free, allowing the realtor to open closets and refrigerators or turn on taps, effectively displaying every amenity in the home. Realtors can also wear the glasses as they drive, educating prospective buyers about the property’s neighborhood while navigating through it.

For more information and tips, see National Mortgage Professional’s article “Five Ways Google Glass Will Change Real Estate.”

Agent Primer: Virtual Staging 101

Every realtor knows that the cost of staging a home can be as much as $2500, but is well worth the effort. Rooms just look better when decorated tastefully, and empty homes spend upwards of 70% more time sitting on the market, according to the Real Estate Staging Association. Fortunately, new virtual staging services make sophisticated staging accessible. These services, offered online by hundreds of companies, fill rooms with lifelike digital furniture and accessories at the touch of a button.

Companies like Virtual Staging Solutions and Obeo Virtual Staging charge approximately $80 dollars to stage a room, and as little as $325 for a group of five. The service is easy to use, requiring only three simple steps. A) Select your photo package. B) Submit and describe the photos. C) Choose from the site’s furniture options, or allow them to choose for you. In no more than four business days, your photos are returned full of furniture, fixtures, and art.

In an age where the Internet is the primary search tool for prospective buyers, superior property photos make an impact. Use virtual staging technology to grab prospective buyers’ attention and show them the full potential of a space—without breaking the bank.

For more details, see The Boston Globe’s recent article on the virtual staging phenomenon.

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Things To Do On The Water In Boston

by c21commonweath_ldowling 24. July 2014 18:09

If you are looking to have some fun on the cool water of the Boston Harbor then look no further! Here are some fun things you can do on the water in Boston to make the most of this beautiful summer.

Codzilla

If you are looking for a fun time that will be unforgettable, then Codzilla is definitely the ride for you to be on. Gaining sped of up to 40 mph you will be gliding over the ocean getting wet and listening to music for 40 minutes! 

Boston Rowing Center

Get a group together or go by yourself, either way get on one of the rowboats at Boston Rowing Center for a fun time. After a quick safety procedure walkthrough and a sculling lesson, you’ll be ready to get on the water! 

Rock and Blues Cruise

On this non-traditional cruise, you will be able to be on the water in Boston while listening to great live music. With most of these cruises lasting around 3 hours, you wont be short on time so take a look at the line-up and buy your tickets at http://www.rockandbluescruise.com.

The Charles River Canoe and Kayak

Get on the water in a canoe or kayak, do stand-up paddleboard yoga (or SUP yoga as they call it), or even go on a shuttled river trips on the Charles. At Charles River Canoe and Kayak you’ll never be short on fun activities to do! 

Piers Park Sailing Center

If you love to sail or would love to learn how to sail, Piers Park Sailing Center is definitely the place for you to be. You can buy a sailing pass to have seasonal use of their fleet of Sonars or you can learn to sail by taking sailing courses and lessons. Whether you are an experienced sailor or you are just interested in learning a few things make sure to take a look at all they offer at http://piersparksailing.org.

Super Duck

This one of a kind tour will take you on land and in water for a tour you can’t get anywhere else! On this Super Duck tour you will drive the historic streets of Boston then prepare to plunge into the harbor and continue to have fun and learn about this great city. 

Take advantage of all the great water activities near your Boston home this summer!

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Summer Home Decorating Ideas

by c21commonweath_ldowling 18. July 2014 12:09

Summer is here and as a homeowner you might need a little something around the house to remind you! Whether inside or outside, here are a few decorating tips to make your Boston home just as ready for summer as you are.

One simple and easy way to bring some summer into your home is with pillows. Outdoor pillows and indoor pillows are small, yet big enough to make a difference. You could try some bright patterns and solid colors to liven up both the inside and outside of your home.

Another great addition to both the inside and outside of your home for summer is candles. You can add things to candles, make candles out of seashells, and even decorate a vase to put the candle in. Either way, this is a simple way you can put your own summer twist and style on the inside and outside of your home. 

When you think of a wreath you probably think of winter, cold, and snow, but that does not have to be the case! There are so many different ways to add summer flair to this traditional decoration piece. You can make a wreath out of flip-flops, large (or small) bright flowers, and even just simple fabric. Go ahead and put this modern twist on a traditional piece of décor and you’ll be reminded of summer every time you open your front door.

If you are ready to take on a slightly more challenging task, you won’t go wrong with an outdoor canopy. With this beautiful weather during the summer months, there is no better way to spend it then lounging under the shade of a canopy in your own backyard!

If you are looking to have a theme going on either outside your house or inside, the first theme you could consider is Red, White, & Blue. Of course we all know that the 4th of July is one of the best parts of summer, so why not celebrate all summer! You can also try a Nautical theme or Beach theme. With anchors, rope, stripes, and sailboats all over, the only other thing you might need is a lighthouse! While having sand and seashells all of your house, with a beach theme, might make you miss the beach more than normal, at least you’ll have your own little slice of summer right in your own Boston home.

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