3 Reasons To Buy Your Home Before 2014

by c21commonweath_ldowling 11. November 2013 12:53

2013 will be over soon, and if you're a potential home buyer in the Boston area, you may be wondering if your purchase should wait. With the stress of the holidays almost upon us, is now really the time to buy a home?  Based on a number of economic factors, the answer is "yes."

Get In While Interest Rates Are Still Low

Interest rates are still historically low, but there are signs that will change soon. Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke has indicated that the Quantitative Easing program he has instituted to encourage low interest rates may be on its way out. This would mean that the Federal Reserve would no longer be buying mortgage-backed securities and treasuries in an effort to stimulate the economy. Without this help, interest rates on mortgages will no doubt go up. One of the reasons the Quantitative Easing program might go away sooner rather than later is fear that it could contribute to inflation. As a home buyer in Boston, now is the prime time to buy - take advantage of the low interest rates Quantitative Easing is bringing about before it goes away AND lock in a good interest rate in the event it affects inflation.

Winter Weather Rewards the Persistent

There is a lot of home buying activity in the summer, but fall and winter find more home buyers sitting on their hands. For a buyer, this means less chance of a bidding war, and in all likelihood, easier negotiating with a highly motivated seller. A home buyer can also get a better sense of the condition of the home. Is it drafty, heated evenly, well-insulated? Winter in the Boston area is hard on the heating bills, and buying during this season will give you a better sense of how your future home stacks up.

2014 Brings New Regulations

There's no fixed deadline set for the end of Quantitative Easing, but January of 2014 will bring a new mortgage rule that could affect home buyers in the Boston area, though it affects buyers nationwide. As of 2014, the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau (CFPB) will discourage banks and lenders from making loans where the ratio of debt- to-income is higher than 43%. If this rule had been in place in 2012, almost 1/5th of home-owners would have had to buy a less expensive home, or increase the amount they spent on a down payment. Sidestep this wrinkle in the home buying process altogether by buying in 2014.

There are many compelling reasons to buy a home in the greater Boston area this winter. Grab your gloves and a winter jacket, and find your dream home this year!


Happy Halloween! Events in the Boston Area

by c21commonweath_ldowling 25. October 2013 17:13

If you are selling your home in the Boston area, this year might be the year to celebrate Halloween out of the house, and take in the many events and attractions Massachusetts has to offer this time of year.  Below we look at a few categories of seasonal entertainment that are fun for the whole family.


In the greater Boston area there are a number of haunted hayrides to choose from that provide scares and fun for all.  Hanson’s Farm in Framingham has hosted a haunted hayride for 17 years, with more than 100 volunteers participating in the rides on Fridays & Saturdays in October.  If a hayride is too intense for your younger ones, have fun working your way through the farm’s corn maze 7 days a week.  Witch’s Woods in Westford has not only a 20 minute hayride but three haunted houses on the grounds, making for a full and frightening evening for ages 6 and up.

Ghost Tours

In an area as historically rich as Boston, it’s reasonable to expect a variety of ghost tours and stories, and Boston delivers.  Ghosts and Gravestones Tours of Boston and Haunted Boston Ghost Tours take you on a narrative tour of historic Boston’s most colorful ghouls.  Beacon Hill With A Boo! exposes the ghastly tales of the past in this beautiful and seemingly peaceful neighborhood.  The Haunted Ship at the USS Salem is an adventure in a league of its own, touring the ship with “ghost hunting” cameras and equipment.


If you have toddlers, avoiding ghosts and ghouls is probably a good idea, but you can still have fun with pumpkins!  The Fort Point Channel Pumpkin Pageant in Boston on October 24th has free refreshments and child friendly pumpkin carving implements.  The Fall Pumpkin Festival at Frog Pond in Boston on Sunday October 27th is free and in addition to hosting a puppet show, a magic show, and a bubble show, encourages costumes and displays hundreds of jack-o’-lanterns for your children’s delight.


If there is one town that comes to mind when you think of Halloween, witches, and ghosts in America, it’s probably Salem, and the town embraces Halloween with gusto.  There are ghost tours, including a Haunted Harbor Cruise, events, seasonal treats, and plenty of shopping.  In fact, Salem is so popular during Halloween that visitors planning an overnight stay are advised to make reservations well in advance.  But if you are selling a home in the Boston area, this is the perfect spooky day trip for you!

There are plenty of places and events offering Halloween fun in the Boston region.  Keep your home pristine and enjoy the season while you look for buyers in the Boston metro area! 


Top 7 Simple Upgrades for Selling Your Home

by c21commonweath_ldowling 18. October 2013 14:30

If you want to get your house off the market and into the hands of a happy new owner, simple upgrades can go a long way.  Curb appeal and thoughtful touches help your home linger in the memory of potential buyers’ and allow you to meet your home’s true value.

Outdoor Hardware

Boost curb appeal and demonstrate the refinement of your home by making sure your mailbox, your house numbers and your outdoor lighting all look like new.  These little touches will make a good first impression before they even walk through the door.

Outdoor Lighting

If you don’t have outdoor lighting at present, now is the time to consider installing it.  Even in the daytime, the elegant presence of outdoor lighting will be noticed on driveways, around landscaping, and on walkways in general.

Easy Gardening Improvements

There’s no need to venture further into landscaping than you want to.  Adding window boxes or a small container garden near your shed will brighten up your home.  Surrounding these additions with garden gates or tasteful outdoor sculptures (fountains, for example) can bring the look together and give prospective buyers a good feeling about your home.

Replace Gutters

Any potential homebuyer will no doubt be taking a close look at your roofing, so why not give them a great impression by showing them new gutters?  It’s one more thing they won’t have to worry about, and another sign that instills confidence in the maintenance of your home.

Add A New Coat of Paint to Porches & Shutters

Wherever paint looks chipped or faded in a home, add a new coat of paint and watch the curb appeal grow.  You can also revisit the color scheme of the house if necessary and update areas with trendier tones. 

Add or Upgrade Railings

If you’ve recently built a deck, make sure your railings are not only present, but stylish and looking new.  Re-paint or re-stain wood to add the finishing touch to this area of your property.

Augment Your Porch or Front Lawn

While some home owners may enjoy outdoor living more than others, you never know what your buyer’s preference might ultimately be.  Purchase new lawn furniture for the porch or front lawn, or buy decorative outdoor plants that help make your lawn or porch a selling point. 

Taking on these fairly simple tasks can help you increase your asking price and generate more interest in your home without tackling larger projects like kitchen or bathroom renovations.  Such small changes will also help bring your home together aesthetically and create a pleasing impression home buyers are sure to remember.




Selling a Home During The Fall

by c21commonweath_ldowling 17. October 2013 14:40

Fall can be a great time to sell a home in the Boston area.  The air is crisp, the leaves are changing colors, and Massachusetts transforms itself into one of the most picturesque places in the US.  Potential buyers are happy to take in the landscape while on their house hunting tours, and we have some tips to ensure that your home catches their attention.

Embrace the Fall Palette

Decorating with fall colors will enhance your home’s curb appeal and play off the beauty of the outdoors.  A tasteful wreath can help draw people to your home, as can carefully arranged pumpkins and gourds on your front porch.  Increase your home’s charm by incorporating all the things that people love about fall.

Be Diligent about Grounds keeping

Of course, while fall foliage is great when it’s on the trees, eventually those beautiful leaves end up on your lawn and create a month’s worth of landscaping chores.   Spend some time each day keeping up after leaves, or hire a team to thoroughly rake and bag leaves on your lawn.  You want to show that your yard, like your home, is well cared for and maintained, and putting a little work into the yard each day will help sell the home.

Celebrate Halloween

Halloween is an entire holiday dedicated to having children and adults tour neighborhoods and see homes.  It’s a perfect opportunity for a house seller to expose their home to new potential buyers and increase promotion by word of mouth.  If you love Halloween, you can still decorate for the season, although lavish decorations, haunted houses, cobwebs, etc., should probably be avoided.  Make sure the entrance way to your house is clear. 

Clean Up After Trick or Treaters

An event like Halloween practically ensures that there will be some trash left on the streets, wayward candy bars or decorations blown far from home base.  As with leaves, be sure to clean up promptly, and take your decorations down on November 1st

While there are certain aspects of fall that make selling a home more burdensome (leaves, leaves, leaves), there is plenty of upside to showcasing your home in this season.  Your house may never seem more appealing than during this season familiar to all from films, postcards, Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle.  We wish you the best of luck in selling your home in the Boston area this year!


Keeping Your Home Safe While Selling

by c21commonweath_ldowling 7. August 2013 19:17

Selling your home can feel strange… you’re not only going to allow strangers to wander through your home, you’re going to encourage it. Those strangers will examine every room, every closet, and every nook and cranny they can find. They’ll open drawers, look under sinks, and invade your space. Most of this will happen while you’re not at home. Keeping your home and family safe is an important consideration through this whole process.

Remove Documents
You likely have more documents with personal information than you realize. Credit card and utility bills tend to have personal information, as do school report cards. Invest in a shredder for those documents that can be discarded. For those you’d like to keep, put them in a locked file, safety deposit box or another family member’s home. Remember that drawers will be opened, so just putting them out of site is not the same as securing them.

Regulate Your Pictures
When your home is listed, you’re going to want to post many pictures of the various areas of your home to attract buyers. However, spend time going through the pictures to make sure there’s nothing attractive to potential thieves. This includes not only expensive items, but also security features. While you want to give information to buyers, maintain strict control over what that information is so that you don’t give thieves any advantage.

Don’t Advertise Opportunities
Because thieves do have the opportunity to learn about your home, they also often target empty homes that are on the market. To protect yourself, don’t let on when no one’s home. Change your voicemail message from “Nobody’s home right now,” to “We’re unavailable to come to the phone.” Require that home showings are by appointment only and that buyer’s agents can’t assume that the home is empty and just show the house on a whim.

Clean Up After a Showing
This is more than just sweeping the front stoop. Double check all the doors and windows to be sure they’re locked, especially those that can’t be easily seen from the outside. Someone who is planning an unexpected return would want easy access, so checking the locks deprives potential invaders of that.

Talk to your Century 21 Commonwealth agent to devise other safety strategies for your home showings and make sure to stick to them.