Thursday, July 26, 2018

Are We Heading Towards Another Housing Slump?

Although many are happy with the short term benefits of the recent tax cuts I have said for awhile that I fear there will be a negative impact on the housing market as a result. My predictions may not be too far off.  An article by Bloomberg suggests we may be headed to a major slowdown in the housing market. (Of note, at the time of this blog the Massachusetts Housing Market is setting new records but we tend to lag behind trends on the West Coast and other parts of the country.)

In addition, early this week there was an article in the WSJ Housing Slump discussing the cause for fallen sales. In combination of a lack of inventory and rising interest rates there are less new buyers entering the housing market. Many millennials are burdened with high student debt. Further the mortgage deduction reduction to $750K and the removal of the property tax deduction also impact housing purchase decisions in the more expensive home markets. All this coupled, with few affordable places to move once one sells may result in sellers delaying this process.

According to Mreport aside from low inventories and rising interest rates the costs to build are increasing as a potential side effect of the immigration ban (less low wage workers entering the country) and tariffs. Prices for lumber have increased significantly since the Canadian tariffs were put in place in 2017. This makes new construction more expensive and out of reach for some.

We don't yet have a long history of the tax cut's impact on the housing market. Time will tell how the overall market will be affected. My guess is that it is heading in the wrong direction.

Wendy is a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Needham, Mass. She enjoys working with buyers and sellers and welcomes referrals. Check out her website at

Addendum: Interesting indicators in Boston Globe Sunday August 12, 2018 for another recession

Sunday, July 15, 2018

How to be a perfect house guest

A few days ago I blogged about tips on how to successfully host guests at a vacation home.  As mentioned,  I am now following up on Part 2 of this theme with how to be a perfect house guest.  Of course no one is perfect on either end and it would be too "Stepford Wife" like if they were but I thought I would write a list of ideas for anyone planning a stay at someone's home.  I found a good article on this subject as a guideline but more specifically here is a list from my viewpoint and experience.

Before Arrival- Define agreed upon dates and a length of stay
- Arrive at a reasonable agreed upon time if possible
- Learn where to park and only park in designated space
- Understand and respect the hosts schedule (they may have appointments or work to do during your stay).

What to bring
Ask out what type of clothing to bring, casual, dress, swimwear. 
If you have a special diet feel free to bring your own food
Bring you own toiletries - sunblock, towels
If you have a special pillow feel free to bring along
If you have a pet ONLY bring if invited by the host.

DO NOT BRING CHOCOLATE or anything dangerous that the pet could access.  (we had one guest hide chocolate in a backpack that my dog ate-had to call poison control at 2am)

Tour the house and learn where you should put your things.
- During the tour get a pulse of your hosts.  
- Are they carefree and tell you to make your self at home in the kitchen?  If yes, know your limits but offer to help where needed (I wouldn't raid the icebox when they are asleep). 
-Respect assigned boundaries (ie: if a door is closed DO     NOT ENTER unless invited).  
- Do not touch the house guests personal items unless you have permission.
- Learn the appropriate guidelines if your host has a pet (ie: keep door closed and appropriate foods).  

How to behave
Respect norms of house and the venue-if you are in a private house it is different than if there are neighbors all around so you need to be mindful of noise levels both in and outdoors.
- Understand bedtimes, wake up times etc.
- Ask permission before using anything of the host and respect the word "No" if they set limits.
- Seek activities you can do on your own and feel free to take a day trip.  You can invite your hosts to join you but don't feel slighted if they suggest you go on your own.  Sometimes hosts need their own space.
- Be social and don't ignore your hosts when they indicate interest in chatting (ie: put your phone/laptop down).
- Keep the room where you stay clean-make bed, empty trash.  Your things should be neat and out of site.

End of Visit
Clean up after yourself and put everything back to how it was upon arrival without leaving a trace.  

Sign your hosts guest book and rave about how your stay was.  Chances are if you give a great review and follow all my suggestions you will be invited back next year.  

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She enjoys working with buyers and sellers on both sides of the Bourne Bridge. Wendy tries to connect her life wisdom with that of homeowners. She enjoys blogging and writing about all things local that keep her balance.  For more info on Wendy check out her website at 

Friday, July 13, 2018

How to host a successful vacation house holiday

A friend of mine recently shared this photo meme from an Onion article with me.  Although a spoof on reality, in this blog post I will share my summer hosting advice on this subject.  In a subsequent blog,  I will share suggestions on being the perfect house guest.

Keep in mind that if you have a vacation home your goal in this acquisition is to relax and enjoy family time.  The expectation shouldn't be that the purpose is to serve all your guests as the "Help".

Entertaining can be a lot of fun but it also comes with responsibilities and chores.  It is important to outline and set expectations before guests arrive of how your home functions properly.  Once you feel that your home is comfortable to accommodate a certain number of guests you can start inviting them!!

Rule 1: Identify your comfort zones and how you want others to behave in your space.  Before guests arrive map out where they will each sleep.  Be sure you have adequate bedding, pillows and towels.  If necessary buy an air mattress or two. 

If you are having out of town company coming from multiple locations try to coordinate arrival times (particularly if you have to pick them up at a train or airport).  You won't have time to run a shuttle service.  

Rule 2: Set rules and expectations of your visitors.  This includes basics such as where to park their car and where to store their belongings upon arrival.  Tell them to remove their shoes when entering your home ( leave sand outside).  Share your preferred air-conditioning settings, night lights, items you unplug when not home and more.  

Rule 3: Give your guest a designated space for their visit.  (ie: where they can sleep, shower, hang clothing etc. ).  Have it broom clean and give them directions on how you would like it at the end of the visit.  

Leave a laundry basket or area where they can leave bedding, sheets etc on their last day.  Instruct them on how to turn on bathroom fans, wipe down shower, where to discard trash etc.  

Rule 4: Instruct guests on how to make coffee, feed themselves if you are busy and load the dishwasher if they use real plates.  (Encourage them to feel at home and not as a guest.)  You don't want a sink full of dirty dishes.  

Have essential food items including coffee, eggs, English muffins, cheese and other basics.  Stock up on paper goods and  water bottles. Buy mini moo coffee creamers and non-perishables.  If your guest is on a special diet let them bring any special food items they may require.  

Rule 5: If you have a pet specify guidelines on how your guest should treat your pet,  (careful of dog exiting the doors, absolutely NO CHOCOLATE!! or feeding human foods etc.)

Rule 6: Give your guests some space.  Don't experience FOMO ( fear of missing out). Let them go exploring on their own if you have things you need or want to do.  

give them a spare key and access codes so they can go out, return on their own.

Rule 7: Set up a supply area/basket with extra towels, sunblock, toothbrushes, toiletries, personal hygiene, disposable razors, etc.  Guests almost always forget at least one item.

Rule 8:  Teach your guests how to use your washer/dryer and provide laundry detergent.  Assign a time for them to do their own laundry.  

stock up on extra bath and beach towels.

Rule 9:  Set up some games, puzzles, magazines and TV access to allow guests to find their own entertainment around the house.  Give them a walking map of the area.

Rule 10: Enjoy your guests and keep things in perspective.  A little dirt is easy to clean.  Take time to chat, play games, drink wine and make it a fun experience for everyone. 

Lastly, tell your guests to sign your guestbook and that if they are good you will invite them back again!!   If you have additional suggestions and recommendations please feel free to share these in the comment section.   

p.s. Be sure to take some time for yourself after your guests leave and space out a few weekends before inviting your next visitors.    

Wendy is a Realtor based at Coldwell Banker Needham.  She also works on the Lower Cape during the warmer months.  She enjoys hosting family and friends on both sides of the bridge.   After four summers she has learned how to keep the balance of enjoying her vacation home while also being a good hostess and mom.  Wendy can be reached at

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Things We Keep

When one thinks of downsizing and decluttering one usually thinks of the physical material clutter we collect in our homes and offices Many are hard to dispose of because they preserve old memories.   

Often we keep photos and items of a deceased family member to pass on their legacy and remind us of their presence.  In the digital age this now can transcend beyond a physical space.   Perhaps it was weird karma that this article  was featured in today's Boston Globe as it hit a deeper spot in my memory bank.   I have sometimes questioned if I should delete a contact of someone who has passed on?

Tomorrow marks my birthday on the secular calendar but on the Jewish Calendar is also marks the 3rd yahzeit of my mother Audrey Stearns who passed away on July 15, 2015. I still maintain her phone contact info and fb wall link. I have not been able to delete this and it is a positive memory for me to have little reminders of my Mom who lives on forever in my mind and I feel still influences my day to day thoughts. I will be lighting a candle in her memory tonight as under Jewish tradition the day starts at sunset the eve prior.

Wendy is a realtor with Coldwell Banker Needham.  She also works on the lower Cape during the warmer months.  
She has her SRES and enjoys working with clients who are thinking about downsizing.  She can be reached at