Major Steps in a Move-Out Checklist

by c21commonweath_ldowling 21. August 2019 11:02

Selling your house is a busy enough process, but getting ready to leave it is downright hectic. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up and pieces to pack in the transition from one home to another.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your move, reference this checklist to ease your stress while moving from point A to B.

Notify Others of Your Move

Sometime between signing the papers for your new house and packing, you’ll need to contact the post office and your utility companies to let them know you’re moving. Visit to change your address so your mail is forwarded to your new place. The post office only forwards monthly and bimonthly subscriptions for up to 60 days, so you’ll need to notify publishers separately if you want to keep reading the paper with your morning cup of joe.

It’s just as important to inform your local utilities (gas, electric, water, sewer, trash, and garbage) of your move so they can discontinue services around the date of your exit. If you aren’t transferring service to your new residence, you should still give them your new address so they can send your final bills.

Lastly, if you have homeowners insurance, discontinue coverage on your old home to make sure you’re not paying for two policies.

Do a Thorough Housecleaning

Make room in your schedule for cleaning time before and after you pack. If you clean before you move boxes, you’ll be less likely to drag dirt and dust around the house.

A “broom clean,” a light cleaning of the entire house, is the move-out standard. Dust and wipe down all surfaces (bookshelves, countertops, and walls included), then sweep or vacuum your floors. Unless you’ve agreed to go above and beyond, these general cleaning tasks should be enough for your buyers. They’ll clean the house to their own standards once they move in, but you should still tidy up to leave a good impression on the new owners.

If there’s any confusion regarding your cleaning responsibilities, read over your purchase agreement to better understand what you’ve agreed to handle. If you’re not in a position to take care of the house yourself before moving out, hire a cleaning service to do the work for you.

Label Your Moving Boxes

Don’t forget to label your boxes before the big moving day so you know which ones to load into the truck first (remember, boxes that go in first will come out last). The general advice is to organize boxes by room and label the rooms by numbers or colors. When it’s time to unpack, you’ll know where each box goes.

Stress Less and Get More Done

Refer to this handy-dandy moving checklist if you get stressed in the days—or minutes—leading up to your move. If you take care of these tasks ahead of time, you’ll set yourself up for a smooth transition.


Selling Your Boston Home This Summer

by c21commonweath_ldowling 19. August 2019 11:40

Did you know that summer is one of the best times of the year to put your house on the market in Boston? The season may be winding down, but there’s still time for sellers to take advantage of its perks. Market trends, weather, and timing are all in your favor, so take comfort in putting that “for sale” sign in your front yard for all to see.

Favorable Market Trends

Local market trends greatly determine when you should sell your home. Since last year, the median home sale value increased by $36,000 (4%), with a rise in the number of sales occurring each month. In April of this year, Boston saw a 6.9% increase in the number of homes sold, with favorable trends continuing through the summer.

Sellers should take advantage of this summer’s high housing prices and competition from a larger buyer population—there’s a good chance you’ll get more money from a sale now than later in the year.

Consider Weather Conditions

Weather affects buyer behavior, and you’re more likely to sell your home when passersby can see it (i.e., when it’s not covered in snow). You’ll have more luck selling your house in the spring or summer, when your lawn is visible and the flowers are in full bloom. This year’s mild winter and rising housing prices created a more active market in early spring, increasing competition among buyers throughout summer—one more reason to sell this season!

How to Prepare Your Home for a Summertime Sale

Before you place your home on the market, there are several things you can do help it sell more quickly.

Create Curb Appeal

Bostonians appreciate the area’s surrounding natural beauty and love beautiful yards and patios. To maintain your lawn’s healthy look, mow it twice a week (grass grows faster in the summer) in a diagonal direction to add more dimension. Plant flowers, trim bushes, and scatter mulch for a more welcoming front yard.

Make Your Guests Comfortable

Turn on air conditioning to make sure everyone stays cool in the summer heat. You can also offer summer beverages and snacks to encourage prospective buyers to stick around a little longer, and take advantage of the longer-lasting daylight by offering flexible showing hours so people can stop by after work.

Invest in Small Home Improvement Projects

Make improvements to rooms people spend a lot of time in, like the kitchen and living room. Repaint the walls a neutral color, fix outdated lighting fixtures, and update appliances.

Contact a Local Real Estate Agent

It’s hard to predict exactly when to place your home on the market to get the most favorable returns. Reach out to one of our experienced local real estate agents for help with getting the most bang for your buck in the remainder of the summer season.

Now’s the time to sell your Boston home if you want plenty of bites from buyers and better returns. With this knowledge and help from local real estate agents, you’ll be well prepared to make a smart move before fall.



How to Unpack Like a Pro

by c21commonweath_ldowling 14. August 2019 11:50

Unpacking can be stressful if done improperly, which is why we encourage you to put some thought into preparing for your next big move. In order to settle into your new place smoothly, we recommend you get super organized, set realistic goals, and clean up after yourself along the way. Follow some of these unpacking principles to avoid major burnout.

Before You Unpack

Here are several pre-unpacking steps you can take that will save you a lot of work down the road.

Clean Your New Home

Before you create huge piles of stuff in every room, do a thorough cleaning of your new place. By sweeping, dusting, and scrubbing dirty surfaces before you unpack your things, you can make your home spotless without having to work around miscellaneous objects.

Label Appropriately

Label your boxes during the packing process. This ensures you know exactly where each box is going before you even open it, saving you a good amount of time. We also recommend making an inventory of your labeled boxes so you can easily see if everything arrived safely once your items are unloaded from the moving truck.

Have a “Smart” Box

Pack a special box that contains a first aid kit and tools that may come in handy: screwdrivers, hammers, fasteners, a flashlight, and maybe even a portable radio.

Arrange Heavy Furniture

It’s a good idea to plan your new home’s layout and put large furnishings in place before unpacking any smaller items. Once your dining room table, sofas, beds, heavy desks, and all other bulky items are in the appropriate positions, you can more easily place your small belongings around them—you won’t have to haul heavy objects around little ones scattered across the house. 

Time to Unpack

There’s a golden rule for moving: Unpack room by room. This process allows you to accomplish little goals over a longer period of time so you don’t feel the pressure of having to unpack your entire house in one weekend (talk about burnout)! If you’ve labeled your boxes properly, you can pile them in their appropriate rooms to be ready for each individual unpacking project.

Bedrooms and Bathrooms

Unpack essential items in these rooms first. You’ll need a comfortable place to sleep after a long day of moving (and you’ll need to rest up for the remainder of the unpacking process). Unpack bedding, clothing, and toiletry items first. You’ll set yourself up for success if you get a good night’s rest and have what you need to get dressed and get the day going.


Start unpacking utensils, glasses, and dishes first, then move on to other miscellaneous cookware. You won’t need all of your fancy glasses and silverware immediately, so don’t feel compelled to unpack these things first.

Living Room

Set up your couch, coffee table, and TV to create a space where you can relax after a day of lifting boxes and organizing all your things. You’ve worked hard and deserve a place to kick back and relax!

Kids’ and Pets’ Items

If you have children or pets, make sure you pack boxes of items like clothing, toys, snacks, and food that can be unpacked right away. When your kids and fur babies are comfortable, you can focus more of your efforts on unpacking the rest of the house.

Garage and Outdoor Items

These items can be unpacked last—they’re not as likely to be necessary to your everyday comfort. Just make sure you don’t put off unpacking them for too long, otherwise they may live in boxes far longer than they should.

Enjoy Your Success

It can be easy to forget about your everyday life while moving. Make sure you take time to check in with friends and reward yourselves with a break after unpacking a room or two. Moving is stressful enough, so enjoy some downtime to stay centered and energized for the rest of your household projects.


Ceiling Fan Upgrades

by c21commonweath_ldowling 12. August 2019 11:16

Update Your Ceiling Fans

If you’re trying to escape from the summer sun, you’ll likely seek refuge in a cool, temperature-controlled room, but you’ll need your ceiling fans to be in tip-top shape to keep the heat from permeating your house. If your ceiling fans aren’t working, or if they just look a bit outdated, follow these instructions for replacing them quickly and safely.

How to Replace a Ceiling Fan

Replacing a ceiling fan isn’t necessarily hard, but it’s best to do some prep work before diving straight into your project.

Removing the Old Fan

Before removing the fan from the ceiling, make sure you follow some basic safety measures. Working with electrical wires can be dangerous, so you’ll want to turn off the power to your ceiling fan. It’s worth being extra cautious—after you flip the switch, use a voltage tester to ensure that no remaining electricity will harm you during the process.

Now you’re ready to remove the old fan from the ceiling. Start by taking off the light fixtures, then the blades, and finally, the base. You’ll need a screwdriver and maybe even a buddy to help with any heavy lifting. Before you attempt to install the new fan, take note of how the wires in the old fan connected to the ceiling (you can take picture to make sure you don’t forget).

Installing the New Fan

Start by attaching the new bracket to the ceiling’s electrical box. Use the new screws to fix the bracket to the electrical box securely, pulling the wires from the ceiling through the bracket’s center hole.

After you put your new fan’s base together (steps will vary depending on the kind of fan), you can raise your fan base to the ceiling, hook it into the bracket, and attach the wires (wire colors and directions may vary by fan).

The Best Ceiling Fans

Whether or not your ceiling fan is broken, you can replace it with a more attractive and powerful fan to improve both your home’s airflow and its atmosphere. We recommend finding a top-quality ceiling fan that complements your décor. Click here for a list of some of the most highly rated ceiling fans of 2019—they’ll get the job done right and help tie the room together. 


Here's How to Prepare for Your Summer Staycation

by c21commonweath_ldowling 7. August 2019 11:10

Going on vacation doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. Instead of dealing with the hassle of catching flights and checking into hotels, plan for a Boston staycation—it can be just as fun as traveling to another city or country, and it’s more affordable. Make the rest of your summer wicked fun with our suggestions for a Boston “vacation.”

Plan Ahead

Your staycation could turn into ordinary lounging if you don’t plan ahead. Decide how many days you want to spend at home and how many you’ll spend out in the city, and schedule fun activities in advance so you don’t end up in front of the television the whole time you’re off.

It’s also a good idea to tackle chores before your vacation commences. By tidying your home before the clock strikes “staycation,” you’ll save yourself from thinking about all the chores you should be doing. Clean the floors, countertops, and windows to clear your mind and give your home that hotel-clean vibe. You can even buy new bedding or set up a relaxation room with pillows and candles to switch things up. Without a to-do list looming over you, you’ll be better prepared to kick back, relax, and enjoy your

Staycation at Home

Vacationing in the comfort of your own home is an easier way to create new memories with the family. Here are some budget-friendly ideas for a fun and active staycation around the house.

Camp Outside or Build a Fort

You don’t have to sleep in your bed just because you’re at home. Pitch a tent in the backyard and gather around a campfire for a taste of the outdoors. When night falls, you and your little ones can stare up at the night sky.

If you don’t want to sleep outside, build a cozy fort in your living room. Add twinkle lights and plenty of pillows to create the ultimate kid-friendly fortress. Make sure you leave a window for watching movies and delivering popcorn.

Play Outside

The warm summer months make outdoor play fun. Jump in the pool, start a water balloon fight, organize a scavenger hunt to keep your kids entertained for hours on end. If arts and crafts are more your style, tie-dye t-shirts, make beaded bracelets, or bust out the finger paint to get your hands dirty in a creative project.

Plan a Party

Host a party to let other families participate in your vacation. Set up kid-friendly games like ring toss, corn hole, and fishing hole, and complete the atmosphere by serving carnival food: corn dogs, fries, and cotton candy will do. After the festivities are through, wind down with a movie screening in your backyard before calling it a night. (Back to the fort!)

Staycation in the City

On days when you want to get out of the house, explore Boston and its many attractions. Museums, libraries, and parks provide plenty of entertainment for your whole family—now’s the perfect time to play tourist in your own city.

Museums and Parks

The Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museums, the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Science, and the New England Aquarium all provide opportunities to learn and explore. In downtown Boston, splash in the fountains at Rose Kennedy Greenway and mosey around Boston Public Market to grab some delicious snacks. If you want to avoid the summer crowds at Boston Common and Public Garden, head to Jamaica Plain instead.

Explore the Neighborhood

There are plenty of fun things to do outside of Boston’s city center. The historic waterfront neighborhood, Charlestown, is a good place to start (especially if you’ve already been to the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, etc.). You can take a water taxi to the neighborhood’s Navy Yard for a whole new experience. The nearby Menino Park also has play equipment for your little ones to enjoy.

You can also explore Somerville, Cambridge, Boston Harbor Islands, and Castle Island: neighborhoods and attractions offering plenty of kid-friendly activities and that won’t break the bank.

Enjoy Every Moment

No matter where your Boston staycation takes you, try to enjoy it to its fullest. Whether you’re lounging in your kiddos’ fort or exploring one of our museums for the first time, you can spend quality time with your family in one of the best cities in the world.


Selling a Rental Property With Tenants

by c21commonweath_ldowling 5. August 2019 14:02

Home prices in Boston have been on the rise year after year, making Boston a sellers’ market—but if you’re selling a rental property with current tenants, you’ll have to work harder to take advantage of the favorable climate. Take a look at some strategies for a stress-free rental property sale.

Consider Your Options

As a landlord, you have two options for selling a rental property: You can put it on the market while tenants are living there or wait until after the lease expires. There are pros and cons to each option, so think about which one best suits your timeline and budget. 

Sell with Tenants in the Home

There are several advantages to selling your rental property while your tenants still reside there. If they’ve done a nice job of maintaining the property (with attractive furniture placed throughout), it may look more appealing to prospective buyers. Investors will also be relieved to know they don’t have to find new tenants to occupy the space. 

If you can’t rely on your tenants to keep the home in great shape or clean up their messes, however, you’ll likely have trouble showing it off to buyers. 

Wait Until the Lease Expires

Waiting for the lease to expire gives you extra time to clean and make repairs before buyers tour the place. If you’re selling to a party that plans to move into your house themselves instead of using it as an income property, letting your tenants’ lease expire first means you won’t have to worry about negotiating for their exit before the buyer moves in.

Of course, the longer your house is on the market without tenants paying the bills, the more of your own money you’ll shovel into mortgage payments. 

How to Approach Your Tenants

If you’ve decided on canceling your tenants’ lease agreement before the sale, it’s in everyone’s best interest for the relationship to end amicably. First, you should review the lease agreement to make sure you give proper notice and avoid breaking any agreed-upon terms. Month-to-month leases usually require a 30-day notice—a more thorough read-through of Massachusetts rental agreement notice requirements can be found here.

After you’ve studied your lease agreement, respectfully communicate the situation to your tenants to reduce the chances of trouble or hurt feelings. You can offer to lower rent for a month or two to persuade them to keep the house in tip-top shape before a showing, or if they’re really in love with the house, you can even offer to sell to them.

Massachusetts Landlord-Tenant Law

Massachusetts landlord-tenant law is considered landlord-friendly for many reasons: You don’t have to obtain a license to become one, there are no limits on late rent fees, you don’t have to provide notice before entering the property. We recommend brushing up on your rights as a landlord in Boston so you have more power when it comes to negotiating with your tenants.

Whatever path you take, having a plan for selling your home (with or without your tenants in residence) will help you approach the sale more confidently.


Why We Love Older Homes

by c21commonweath_ldowling 24. July 2019 12:29

While there are many benefits of moving into a newly built house, the charm and character of older homes have made them an increasingly popular purchase in today’s housing market. Buying or building a new home allows you to design it however you’d like, but for those with a fondness for the styles of centuries past, historic homes can be a more attractive option. Here are some common features of older homes that modern buyers just can’t pass up.

Classic Archways and Entryways

Grand entryways make a statement. While today’s homes tend to have simple, square doorframes, older homes were typically constructed with exaggerated, spacious entryways to create a luxurious atmosphere. Historic architects didn’t save all the fun for the front door, however—they used archways throughout the home’s interior to create visual intrigue when entering each new room, separating spaces in the home with carefully crafted corners and unique design elements. The classic archways and entryways found in many antique homes give homeowners and their guests a regal welcome.

Antique Doors

Door knockers aren’t common these days, and wooden door cutouts with metallic fastenings have been replaced by tiny glass and metal peepholes, but you can still find old-fashioned door fixtures on homes throughout the Boston area. Your visitors will get a kick out of using the knocker and seeing your face through a full opening before you let them in.

Charming Character

Buyers are drawn to older homes because they offer a sense of style and character that’s hard to find elsewhere, with intriguing and original design elements you can’t simply recreate. Antique light fixtures, wood-burning fireplaces, colorful tile, charming crown molding, and custom-built shelving and windows are just a few of the most sought-after design features.

Other alluring features include carefully constructed custom-fit and stained glass windows, built-in shelving and bookshelves, and colorful mosaic bathroom tiles, all of which add a pop of era-defining character. In colder months, you can gather family and friends around an old-world fireplace and share in the tradition of keeping warm by the fire. Every room in an old-fashioned home is an opportunity to take a break from the 21st century.

Keep History Alive

Older homes’ captivating design elements give us a glimpse into America’s past and remain historically significant. Many buyers in the Boston area appreciate historic homes with heirloom details and intrinsic colonial charm, and so do we!


Outdoor Summer Trends

by c21commonweath_ldowling 22. July 2019 16:48

Bringing the indoors outside is all the rage these days, as more homeowners create cozy outdoor spaces with bohemian and minimalist design elements. Learn how to design a vibrant outdoor space that provides comfort for you and your friends this summer.

Go for Boho

The bold bohemian style inspires colorful, welcoming outdoor spaces. Here are some tips for creating a tasteful bohemian patio or porch.

Mix Your Materials

Bring indoor elements like brass, rope, and textured upholstery outdoors to mix things ups. Use rugs, couches, and chandeliers outside to create an alluring space that offers the same comforts as your living room.

Be Bold with Color

Use bold colors over neutral upholstered fabrics. Citrus-bright oranges, reds, yellows, and pinks placed over tan or gray couch cushions make your lounging area cheerful, so don’t be afraid to go big with color when you shop for new pillows, throw rugs, and blankets. Boho design doesn’t require everything to match, so you have the freedom to throw differently sized and patterned accessories together for a colorful effect.

Roll Out the Rug

One easy way to bring the inside outside is to add a colorful rug to the ground near your mix of furniture, pillows, and accessories. Moroccan-styled or Mexican-inspired rugs instantly change your patio’s vibe with bursts of color and intricate patterns. For a subtler look, use a solid color that complements your landscaping.

Turn on the Lights

Lanterns, hanging lights, and outdoor fireplaces create that “indoor cozy” feel—placing hanging lights above your seating area also adds length and dimension to the space. Peruse second-hand stores or your favorite department store for old colored glass lanterns and outdoor chandeliers. Soft, mellow light will set the mood for relaxing with family and friends on a warm summer evening.

Aim for Minimalism

Alongside bohemian décor, Scandinavian minimalist elements are at the forefront of summer trends. Scandinavian design emphasizes simplicity and function, with a focus on natural materials, pale colors, and basic shapes. Lounge chairs, love seats, and bistro tables made of neutral woods and powder-coated aluminum are showing up in more stores and backyards across the country.

Combining the Two Styles

How do you combine bohemian and minimalist design elements in a sophisticated way? It’s easier than you think. Start with a minimalist base, using simple and natural furnishings, then add colorful pillows and hanging lanterns on top. By starting with a simple base, you have room to incorporate vibrant accent without dizzying your guests.

With these tips and tricks under your belt, you can design a trendy space that’s cozy and maybe even a bit magical. 


Build Equity Like A Pro

by c21commonweath_ldowling 17. July 2019 14:31

If you’re a Bostonian homeowner who’s interested in building home equity, focus on these two things: paying down your principal faster and making the right renovations. With a little bit of planning and hard work, you’ll increase your home’s value and grow your net worth.

Pay Down Your Principal Faster

Your principal is the amount of money you borrowed to purchase your home, which you have to pay back with interest charged by a lender. The faster you pay off your principal, the less interest you’ll accrue and the more your home equity increases. The following strategies will help you reduce your principal more quickly.

Prioritize Larger Payments

When possible, add more money to your monthly mortgage payments to decrease the lifetime of your loan. If you can’t afford to increase your payments every month, do so when you receive extra cash from tax refunds, bonuses, or an inheritance.

Pay Biweekly

Instead of making payments once a month, make them biweekly to pay down your mortgage fast. First, make sure your lender accepts biweekly payments and won’t charge you a fee for changing your payment plan. Also, confirm that your lender will immediately apply each payment to the principal instead of waiting to submit multiple payments at once.

Refinance Your Home

Refinancing with a shorter loan option gets you a lower rate—just make sure you can drop your interest rate by at least 1.5%. You’ll also want to consider closing costs and double-check that you won’t be penalized for making prepayments on your mortgage.

Increase Market Value Through Renovations

Part of being a smart homeowner is knowing what kinds of renovations will get you more bang for your buck. Whether you’re remodeling a Cape Cod vacation cottage or redesigning a colonial home in traditional fashion, it’s a good idea to consult reputable architects and designers and focus on making improvements that are currently in demand.

Curb Appeal

If your home’s interior looks great but your front yard is in shambles, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a willing buyer. Invest in landscaping to make the front of your home more attractive and welcoming. After all, the front yard is the first thing prospective buyers will see before entering your home—make sure they’ll actually want to step inside!

Energy Efficiency

Energy-efficient windows not only look nice and clean, but they decrease monthly utility bills too. Installing energy-efficient windows and appliances will save you in the long run.

Kitchen Remodel

Kitchen remodels are usually a must for buyers with families—or those who just love to cook. While lavish renovations can cost upwards of $100,000, more modest ones can still produce great results for about half the cost. Visit local department stores for help remodeling your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Invest Wisely

With some research and planning, you’ll be well on your way to building equity like a pro. By paying down your principal more aggressively and investing in your home’s infrastructure, you’ll set yourself up for increased profits at the time of sale.


Outdoor Lighting Ideas

by c21commonweath_ldowling 15. July 2019 15:08

Boston’s warm summers are perfect for enjoying relaxing evenings out on the patio, porch, or deck. Use these lighting ideas to design a cozy outdoor space for lounging outside long after the sun goes down.

Romance Is in the Air

Create a romantic atmosphere with decorative lanterns that cover your yard with a subtle glow. Place lanterns on the center of your patio table, group them around the edges of your yard, or line them up on a wall. No matter their placement, their delicate light will create a comfortable place for you to relax.

You can also use pillar candles to create a soft outdoor glow. Decorative candles like these provide enough light to enjoy the scenery without drawing attention away from it. We recommend battery-operated candles—they’re safer and easier to use.

For a more extravagant look, hang an outdoor chandelier from the beam of your pergola or covered patio (this makes installing wiring less tricky). Simple wooden chandeliers will better complement the surrounding foliage without being over the top.

Creative and Cute

Consider using cute and unusual fixtures to illuminate your space. Electric table lamps, for example, emit concentrated light for reading or writing when it’s dark outside and are a great addition to your outdoor seating area. You may also get a kick out of paper lanterns of various sizes hung above your seating area, oil lamps and solar illuminated planters (pots that light up!).

Practical Fixtures

Sometimes you just need a light to show you the way. Install solar deck accent lights on railings, posts, and stairs to provide extra visibility for you and your guests. These lights can be mounted to any flat surface with screws, making installation easy. They also charge during the day when the sun is out and light up at dusk. String lights are another good option—they can be placed over pools, dining tables, or wherever you need more light.

Get More Out of Your Evening

With the right outdoor lighting, you can enjoy more time outside. Whether you’re playing catch, finishing a novel, or hosting a dinner, these lighting fixtures will provide the light you need to get the most out of your long summer days.