Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy 2018

As the new year approaches it is always good to reflect on the past year and think about how you can create a better future.  A New Year is a new beginning and it always  good to take an assessment of where you are emotionally, physically and financially.

I have been thinking about what is most important to me this week and the areas I hope to focus on over the next several months.  Sadly my last remaining Aunt on my Mother's side of the family just passed away this week.  Her death makes me the oldest surviving female on my Mom's family line and now gives me the role of Matriarch.  As such I have created a list of areas where I hope to improve and share my thoughts to make the world a better place for my heirs. (  As we grow older we realize life is like a puzzle with many different components.  )

My short list includes:

Health and fitness-a healthy body and mind are critical to everything I do.  I feel much better if I do yoga and walk when I feel some stress.  This allows me the strength to be in the right frame of mind to engage with my social and business spheres.
Social-my family and friends keep me going and they are the reason I feel the next two areas are vital.  Likewise I thrive as a realtor by building my business network
Knowledge-It is critical to be aware of the world around us and the history that got us where we are today.  I constantly read newspapers and social media to better understand the political and social climate of our environment and demography.  When I am able I take courses in the real estate area to increase my market knowledge to better serve my clients.  I also have been specializing in senior clientelle and have been trying to keep up to date in issues concerning the needs of seniors for housing, healthcare and transitional living stages.
Advocacy-given our current government I find it vital to be aware and make daily phone calls Daily Action and  5calls to elected officials to fight for and preserve our democracy.  I try to watch a variety of newsstations, listen to podcasts and read the NYT, WSJ, Boston Globe and twitter feed of leading issues (liberal and conservation posts)  and the comments to better understand where we are as a country and what I can do to preserve those values I deem important. 
Organization (Business Plan and House/Declutter)-A major goal of mine is to keep my work environment and home clutter free.  I work better when I can focus and need to have my surroundings in a ready "to go" position.

Below are some great articles and ideas that I found helpful with great suggestions and links to kickstart your 2018.

1) NY Times tips for a better 2018
2)Boston Globe-tips for a happy and healthy 2018
3) Family Circle January 2018  Online Pursuit of Happiness
4) NYT-A Year in Fitness
5) Huffington Post- The Best Financial Moves You Can Make in 2018
6) Advocacy - Daily Action or 5 Calls

If you have time I also recommend reading The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin.  It has a month by month ideas to a happier you.  There is also a podcast available now on itunes.  see Happiness Project

I hope you enjoy these suggestions and have a wonderful start to your New Year.   As the "Matriarch" I hope to lead my family by a good example.  Happy 2018.

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She always feels happiest when she is helping her family, friends and business contacts.  She can be reached at,

Monday, December 18, 2017

The impact of the new tax bill on home ownership

The new proposed tax bill is being marketed as a plan to boost the economy and the middle class. Although I profess not to be an economist or tax expert I am quite nervous about its impact on most Americans who are not in the billionaire class.  Full Tax Plan (500 plus pages) click here.  According to the GOP this is a Christmas gift to all Americans but there are clearly differing perspectives as outlined in yesterdays New York Times article winner or loser?

As a realtor in a blue district I am on the loser list and can ascertain that this bill will not be helping me personally or the real estate market I serve.  For a brief understanding of the plan's impact click Overview.  This highlights the areas to be hit most and I can say for sure that this is a direct way to hurt those of us who live in markets with high costs of living, limited housing and state and local income taxes. 

I predict Home Ownership will likely decrease as it becomes prohibitive to finance a mortgage where the average home exceeds the cap on the new allowable principal.  Existing home owners will be reluctant to move up if they are currently within the allowable mortgage amount as the amount goes from $1M to $750K for new loans after December 15.  The homes that exceed the $1M cap will more likely start to drop in Price as buyers won't be able to deduct mortgage interest.    As noted in the WSJ the plan will hit NY and similiar higher cost regions like a dagger.

The areas where homeowners will be hit specifically include the Mortgage Interest and local property tax deduction.  Home owners will be able to deduct interest up to the first $1M basis of a home for an existing mortgage.  This mortgage had to be on record as of  December 15, 2017.  New loans will be subject to a maximum basis of $750K.  Home equity loan mortgage deductions currently allowed up to $100K will no longer be deductible.  In an area such as Dover and Needham where the median home price exceeds $900K this will surely hurt saleability.   Areas that invest significant tax dollars into public schools and other social services will be further penalized by higher local taxes and less deductibility.  Because the federal government will not have adequate money to fund many "social" programs I fear we may be hit twice.   State and local income tax will be reduced to $10K maximum.

For a brief idea of how the new tax bill will impact you click here.  For those who do benefit from the new plan I will say "Merry Christmas".  For the rest of us I will say may you not feel the burden too significantly in days to come.

Please note that I will continue to post relevant articles to the new tax bill below:

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker in Needham, Mass.  She loves helping local area buyeres and sellers and also has a national referral base.  Please visit her at or on facebook @wendybcb.

Relevant articles
click here for estimated Tax Calculator - this was posted today 12/20/17 as result of final bill

Boston Globe 12/19/17 impact on Home Equity
NAR 12/20/17 Tax-reform/the-tax-cuts impact on Homeowners
WSJ 12/27/17 Property tax prepayment
Boston Globe 12/28/17 How to pay if escrow account for Property tax

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The importance of staging

Who can remember the feeling of love at first sight?  We all want to look our best when meeting someone new to make a good first impression.  Studies have shown that buying a house invokes similiar emotions and it is often said that a buyer will know if interested within the first few minutes of looking at a home.

Staging is the process of dressing your home to make that first important impression.  There are different ways to prepare your home for entry to the marketplace.  Depending on the age and condition of a home,  work may need to be done structurally or cosmetically to spruce it up a bit.  Little things like painting or decluttering can often go a long way to showcase the space and structural integrity of your home.   A study by the NAR shows that a staged home typically sells much quicker than one that isn't.

From my experience the top priority to preparing a home for sale should first be to declutter.   You want to be able to show the structure of your home and make the unique features of the physical property easily visible and accessible.  I recommend going room by room and getting rid of the junk.  Categorize things by if you will continue using them when you move or not.  Get rid of things you don't want and consider putting things that you don't use in a storage pod until you move.  You want to remove as many personal items from your space as possible.

For a more expensive home it may be worthwhile to hire a professional stager or organizer but even if you are on a limited budget there are easy ways to show your place in the best possible way.  Below are a few links to articles on staging I have recently read.

Tips for hiring a stager 
Staging on a limited budget
How to hire a professional stager
Do it yourself Staging tricks
Decluttering tips made elegant
In our technology driven times many millennials want a home that is Smart staged.

Wouldn't you always want to put your best foot forward when you embark on a new project?   Selling a home requires an even higher level of preparedness.  I hope the above tips give you some insight into this process.  As I find more articles related to staging I will add links to this blog post below.

When considering a move it is a good idea to meet with an experienced realtor who can guide you in the preparation process as there are many things to do beforehand to be well positioned.  Remember your property is only a new listing ONCE so you want to get it right the first time to attract the most buyers.  A realtor has insight into how to do this to be competitive in the market place.

Wendy is a realtor in the metro west area of Boston.  She takes a hands on approach with each client and has built a team of professionals to help with each step along the way to make the process as seamless as possible.  As an SRES she is able to help with downsizing and advising her more mature clients on selling "a well lived in" family home.  If you would like a free consultation on how she can help you sell your home please email her at