Sunday, March 28, 2021

Is the Grass always Greener Next Door? It doesn't need to be....


How do you deal with water conservation while still procuring a green grass?  Can you have both a naturally beautiful space while ethically needing to use valuable resources to maintain it.  A recent article in the Boston Globe said Massachusetts is ready to expand water use restrictions as summer approaches.  Most property owners will have to confront this challenge if they want to adhere to local mandates but still have green backyards.   To see the article click here. This is a trend that is happening across the country.  

I spoke to Jackson Madnick, a Wayland Entrepreneur at a networking event with the  Newton Needham Chamber of Commerce last week. His company Pearl's Premium Lawn Seed may offer the perfect solution.  

After much personal inspiration Jackson set out on a journey  to develop a special slow-growing deep-root grass that requires significantly less water than more typical backyard lawns.  It grows well in all climates of the world. By investing in this product a property owner is able to cut lawn maintenance costs without compromising quality. This product has won several awards including and can be seen in front of the Boston Museum of Science. Click here (see "An Evening of Big Ideas" on page 26).



As seen in these photos you will be the envy of your neighbors with a guilt-free, more environmentally friendly green lawn.  Perhaps your neighbors will start asking "why is the grass always greener at your house?"

Wendy is a Realtor and has just also started to write Copy for real estate related businesses. When selling a home,  she advices her clients that curb appeal is the critical first step in appealing to potential buyers.  Perhaps this is a product that could help enhance yours.   To learn more about Wendy's writing services click here.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Be Our Guest, Be Our Guest

We all remember Lumiere singing these words during the scene in Beauty and the Beast when Beauty first enters the Beast's magic castle.  When one becomes a guest there is a moment of escapism when one sometimes forgets the rules of etiquette. As rental agreements are signed, and expectations are outlined between guest and landlord however boundaries and expectations are formally agreed to.  A clear set of expectations by the landlord must be met for the tenant to have the privilege of staying at the property.

In today's real estate world there are both short- and long-term rental arrangements.  Short term rentals can be defined as hotels and or Airbnb type stays.  Long term may be extended term month to month or annual lease terms.  Each type of rental is subject to an agreement of expectations of both the tenant and the landlord.  The tenant must respect the boundaries of the landlord for the agreement to work. Violations may be caused to terminate the stay.  A third less formal stay may be a personal one with family or friends visiting for a period of time.

Since the COVID pandemic there has been some crossover between the traditional and longer term stays as travelers with work at home options seek to visit new travel destinations for longer than usual time periods.  In addition, there have been longer than planned personal visits while family members may work from home to reduce paying rent in high-risk areas. 

When someone does rent using one of the short terms apps, they are subject to review by the landlord.  There are social norms that should be followed to be a good "renter.".  There may be consequences of not being able to rent again in the future if the set boundaries are not met.

In an apartment rental there are guidelines that must be adhered as detailed by the landlord in the rental contract.  If these are not adhered to the renter may have his or her lease terminated either early due to a violation of the contract or upon its renewal.  It will be the landlords decision whether to extend or end the tenant/landlord relationship.  

On the personal front although not specified in a formal contract if a guest extends his or her stay or does not abide by the house rules, he or she may risk a future invitation.  I wrote a blog post a few years ago about how to be both the perfect guest visitor and how to be the perfect host which I recommend referring to on each link.

In each of these scenarios the common thread is that boundaries need to be set by the party who controls the property.  The guest has the privilege of visiting or renting the property and will be paying to use it in agreement to specified guidelines.  As we head towards the summer season and travel begins to open up please read the recommended rental guidelines as suggested in the Boston Globe article here.  The lyrics to Lumiere’s song may continue ring in a guests ears if they follow the appropriate etiquette and are welcomed back for future stays.

Wendy is Realtor with Coldwell Banker and an upcoming author of her first book.  "COFFEE CONNECTION: A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP WITH MY DAILY BREW".   Travel is one of her greatest passions.  In addition, she enjoys coffee, walking her dog, theater/arts, reading, writing and meeting new people.  She always welcomes the opportunity to have a virtual coffee now that we are amidst the “new normal”.  

Check out her website at www.wendybcb.com or her FB page @wendybcb as she posts up to date content to meet the ever-changing marketplace.  




Saturday, February 27, 2021

Protect your rights, baby boomers and seniors, have an Estate Plan




I saw the movie "I Care A Lot" last weekend.  The title is a spoof on the concept of caring for elders.  The premise of the movie is that a court appointed guardian was given the role of moving a wealthy aging woman into a senior care facility.  It was required that the woman pick up and move into this facility leaving everything in her life behind.  She had no choice and was carried out from her home and moved to the facility.

The backstory is that this movie was actually based on similar true incidents that have occurred in the State of Nevada.  This is an example of major exploitation of senior adults.  There actually are enterprises in that state to allow for-profit guardians to target unwilling rich seniors. Then under court mandates they can require the senior to move to a care facility.  Their assets are sold off and the senior has zero say in the matter.  The court appointed guardians are there only to ring in the money.  Read the feature article in The New Yorker here.  

Each of us should have an estate and retirement plan to protect our rights and acquired assets as we age.  We hear stories of seniors being taken advantage of all the time.  As the population ages, more and more, persons are living longer and with greater independence.  There is greater risk of exploitation as people may become vulnerable to health care issues.  If one does not have a family support system in particular it is important to document health care proxy and estate plans and inform those you feel comfortable with while you are able.  I wrote about this subject and performing due diligence before hiring anyone to care for a loved one, a few years ago in June 2019 but the subject at hand is the same.  Click here for the original post.

If you truly do "care a lot" please take the measures necessary to protect your family and your loved ones.  A little homework will go a long way for a safe and worry free future.

Wendy is an SRES Realtor with Coldwell Banker and an upcoming author of her first book.  " COFFEE CONNECTION: A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP WITH MY DAILY BREW".  She enjoys coffee, walking her dog, theater/arts, reading, writing, travel and meeting new people.  She always welcomes the opportunity to have a virtual coffee now that we are amidst the “new normal”. 


Check out her website at www.wendybcb.com or her FB page @wendybcb as she posts up to date content to meet the ever changing marketplace.  




Tuesday, February 16, 2021

You need to make a call and your cell phone crashed!!

Has this ever happened to you?  Last week I upgraded my iphone to the 12.  To set up my new phone I had to pair it with my old one.  Both phones locked up and were unusable for several hours.  I did not have a working landline.  I asked myself what would happen if I had a real emergency.?  

Have you recently moved or tried to set up land line service? Do you know that most major phone carriers do not offer simple phone service.  Particularly on Cape Cod the phone carriers try to upsell you a package that combines internet, cable and phone service.  Sometimes you only need the phone.


This past summer we opted out of an expensive bundling package with Comcast because we had duplicate service at both a primary and second home.  We learned that we could reduce our expenses at the second home by simply installing high speed internet service to stream from our primary home.  With this efficiency, however, came the cost of discontinuing our landline.  As I tried to set up my new phone a few days ago, I realized I was unable to call Apple support since I did not have a landline.

I now recognize the importance of having a dedicated landline for emergencies such as cell service not working.  There are times when the internet can be down and although I recently added a Google voice line on my laptop this would not be useful in such a situation. I am in the process and ordering service from a company called Community Phone.   

This company was started by the founder whose own grandmother needed a landline and instead was sold an expensive bundled package that she could not afford.  This is a common occurrence for many individuals.  

As an SRES Realtor I often work with seniors who are rightsizing to a new home or apartment.  Often they do not have a need for high speed internet or a cable package.  These are expensive and may not be practical particularly for those on a limited budget.   Now that I have become familiar with Community Phone I will now advise them about this service.  I honestly believe all home residents should have a dedicated installed landline for emergency call use.  I am looking forward to the installation of my new phone and will share an update once it is installed.  

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys coffee, walking her dog, theater/arts, reading, writing, travel and meeting new people.  She always welcomes the opportunity to have a virtual coffee now that we are amidst the “new normal”.  Check out her website at www.wendybcb.com or her FB page @wendybcb as she posts up to date content to meet the ever changing marketplace.  



Friday, February 5, 2021

Real or Staged- Fake or Famous?

Last night I watched the new HBO MAX movie titled "Fake Famous".  The premise of the movie was to highlight the role of influencers on our social media and the steps taken to achieve this status.  Those who desire to become influencers generally want to grandularize their own fame and recognition.  This is achieved by getting an increased number of likes and followers.  

As I watched the development of the documentary it became clearly apparent how significant image is in adding value to what we perceive as superiority. Many of the influencers highlighted were selected to represent the face of a physical product or tangible idea.  These individuals were shown in carefully procured photos to convey the actual location or setting mode when in fact, often this is a total snow job. 

(spoiler alert- watch the film to see what a coach seat on an airplane and a toilet seat have in common)

As a Realtor we are taught the importance of Curb Appeal when we prepare a new property listing.  The ideal photos will portray a home that looks picture perfect both when seen online and in person to potential buyers in the marketplace.  Increasingly there are Real Estate sights that promote no-show online listing abilities.  In addition there are companies that do virtual staging.  Virtual staging allows a buyer to visualize how a space may look but should not be allowed to create a false reality of the in-person viewing.  How would a consumer know if the property actually has the same physical presence as the online image?  Although the convenience of doing the entire process virtually may sound appealing I encourage all buyers to find the proper professionals including a Realtor and Legal Counsel to guide one through the process.  

As I watched the documentary I became more skeptical about what I see online in media posts. I believe we can observe images online but if one is a serious consumer it is important to make an informed decision based on true due diligence.  Don't just look at the pretty pictures.  Do your research.  

As a Realtor part of my job is to help and educate my clients.  I have been working virtually since the start of the pandemic.  During this time I recently earned the NAR e-Pro Designation. I took courses to develop my skills for the latest technologies and security tools. I have learned that what you see isn't always what you get.  In real estate, in particular one cannot rely on online images alone. I am always encouraging my clients to learn as much as they can about their intended purchase.   

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys coffee, walking her dog, theater/arts, reading, writing, travel and meeting new people.  She always welcomes the opportunity to have a virtual coffee now that we are amidst the “new normal”.  Check out her website at www.wendybcb.com or her FB page @wendybcb as she posts up to date content to meet the ever changing marketplace.  





Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Home Inspections and How to Avoid Becoming an Bad IG Rap


I read a great article in last Friday's Boston Globe about Home Inspector, James Brock who captures and shares the absurd oddities he uncovers during the home inspection process.  If you are somewhat socially aware or have family members who may be, chances are you may not feel proud to have your home featured on his Instagram "IG" posts.  

To avoid such public shaming you may be asking what can one do to prepare their home prior to photos, a sale and an eventual home inspection?

First let me share a bit about the Home Inspection process.  

A home inspection is a visual exam of the structure and systems of a house. It details problems with the property and if serious enough may prevent the sale. The three main points of an inspection are physical condition, items in need of repair or replacement, and the remaining useful life of major systems.

James Brock, of Boston Home Inspections had been known to take photos of unique items he uncovers during this process.  He does this for fun and not to point out defects.  I just learned of his services and reached out to connect with him.  We had a Zoom chat last Friday night to meet and learn about each others business.  My MO is to be able to provide my clients with the best resources to make their transactions in the buying and selling process as seamless as possible.  We are hoping to join in some fun informative Home Buying conversation on Club House in the near future so look my room up @wendybcb.

Typically an inspection is a part of the due diligence of purchasing a property. It is used a negotiation tool for the buyer for any visible defects.  The inspection typically takes  2-5 hours (old homes may take longer), and prices vary depending on size and scope of the inspection (ie: radon). The information disclosed during the inspection is for the buyers purposes and is not typically shared with anyone other than the parties involved in the transaction. 

The point of the Globe article was to highlight visible unusual items that may be discovered outside the box.  The article and this blogpost were written to introduce one to the inspection process in the vien of purposeful awareness.

If you are easily embarrassed or want to have your inspection go as smoothly and minimally intrusive as possible I recommend assessing your property and repairing any potential defects ahead of time.  In addition, if you have any items such as a hanging TRX you may want to store it away.  Likewise if an IG legacy moment of your sold property is your thing, here is a link to Boston Home Inspectors.  Perhaps you have an oddity that will be a featured as Jame's daily post.

To hire an inspector, get recommendations from a trusted Realtor or from others who have used a particular referral. I also suggest looking at the Mass.Gov website for reputable licensed professional home inspectors.  I once had a buyer of my own home, pick ABC Inspectors, the first one in the phone.  They were awful and their report basically said they were unable to examine any of the items per the report because they were obstructed.  First of all this wasn't true and they basically charged the buyer $300 not to do anything but get them out of the sale.  It appeared the buyer wanted an excuse to get out of the sale and buy another property.  We reported them to the BBB and there had been other similar complaints.  Lastly, you may also check online reviews on Angies List or Yelp.  Be sure to ask about references, memberships in professional associations, professional training, and experience.


Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys coffee, walking her dog, theater/arts, reading, writing, travel and meeting new people.  She always welcomes the opportunity to have a virtual coffee now that we are amidst the “new normal”.  Check out her website at www.wendybcb.com or her FB page @wendybcb as she posts up to date content to meet the ever changing marketplace.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Don't be up Schitt's Creek-Have A Maintenance and Emergency Plan

                                             

Do you or each of your home's occupants know what to do if there is a plumbing emergency in your home?  Do you know where the water shut-off value is?  I had a recent issue with a faulty toilet valve and if we didn't know how to shut off the water main we may have literally been headed down "Schitt's Creek". 

Homeownership can be wonderful but it also comes with many responsibilities.  It is important to be aware of the maintenance procedures necessary to keep the property in good condition and working order.  It is also vital to understand the mechanisms in place should an emergency occur.  Property needs to be maintained on a regular basis to prevent future damage.

If you are a new homeowner or plan to buy a home it is always recommended to have a professional home inspection before finalizing the purchase.  Please see my prior blogpost explaining the Home Inspection here.  In addition to the inspection, as part of due diligence in negotiating an offer, this is the buyers opportunity to learn about the inside operations of the home.  

When we purchased our home, my husband who is an engineer type followed the inspector around the house with a notebook and took meticulous notes on each operating system. He learned about areas that could need future attention.  This became a good reference tool for our home maintenance.  

To put this in laymen's terms, think of your annual medical examination. A good doctor will discuss areas of potential concern and give the patient techniques for preventative care as well as wellness follow up.

Sometimes a household emergency may arise and it is very important to know how to address the situation.   Before moving into a property, I suggest learning where all the shut-off emergency valves are.  It is important to have a plan for anticipated home maintenance issues with a list of appropriate service vendors.  As mentioned, I was inspired to write this blog after a plumbing leak occurred at my house. When an emergency occurs you may otherwise panic and scramble to find the contacts needed.  A recent article in Growing Magazine  cites the most common household emergencies and how to address them. 

In anticipation of home maintenance issues that can occur, I put together a Home Maintenance checklist by season for my clients some time ago.  If any interested reader is interested in a copy feel free to email me at wendy@wendybcb.com and put "Home Maintenance List" in the subject line.  

With proper maintenance and a well formulated emergency plan you will be ready to ease into the New Year with peace of mind and not have to travel down "Schitt's Creek".  Wishing you a great start to 2021.

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys coffee, walking her dog, theater/arts, reading, writing, travel and meeting new people.  She always welcomes the opportunity to have a virtual coffee now that we are amidst the “new normal”.  Check out her website at www.wendybcb.com or her fb page @wendybcb as she posts up to date content to meet the ever changing marketplace.  



 


Monday, December 21, 2020

Resources for Renting Out Property

With the current pandemic and every changing real estate landscape maybe 2021 will be your opportune time to invest in real property.  My guest blogger Patrick Young wrote this very informative blog post with many great links explaining and detailing the steps to consider before making this large investment.  

If you are a serious investor I recommend speaking to a real estate agent as well as financial professionals including a tax advisor and financial planner before jumping in to the market.  I am always available to work with you to start this journey.  

I thank Patrick for this post.  Enjoy!!



 


Owning rental property can be very lucrative, but it can also be a big job. If you’re thinking of buying a property to rent out or have just gotten started, you’ll need a few resources to make the process a smooth one. Preparing a property for tenants or maintaining a vacation rental can entail various tasks, but you can make it a bit easier by getting organized with these tips. 


Finances 

Should You Create an LLC For Your Rental Property? 

Create an LLC Using a Formation Service 

Tax Deductions for Rental Property Owners 

5 IRS Rules for Renting Out Your Vacation Home 


How to Stage and Prep a Rental 

Getting the Property Ready for Viewings

Clean the Floors/Carpets 

Store Items You Don’t Need 


Upgrades 

Add a Garage or Carport 

Update the Driveway 

Landscaping 

Repairs You May Need to Make 

Getting your rental property ready to roll will take some time and effort. However, when you officially have everything squared away, you’ll attract renters to your home in no time! 

Connect with experienced and talented realtor Wendy Bornstein of Coldwell Banker is available to find your next home! Click here or call 781-444-7400. 

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It is important to have the right professionals in place for each step of the home buying process.  I am always happy to introduce my clients to both reputable lenders, tax and financial advisors and legal counsel.  If you would like more information please feel free to contact me.

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham. She is available to help sellers prepare for the prospect of selling a home either virtually or in person.  For more information please email her at wendy.bornstein@nemoves.com or check her website at www.wendybcb.com.