How COVID 19 is affecting the housing market

Posted In:
March 17, 2020

And it’s here, the widespread health crisis we all knew would eventually come. While many people are scrambling to find toilet paper (seriously, what is that about), most of us have decided to hole up at home and do our part to help delay the spread of COVID 19 (Coronavirus disease). Many of my clients are asking me how they feel this will affect the housing market and while I don’t have an exact answer, I can share my experience so far.

What generally is an extremely busy time of year, (I was just quoted three weeks ago in a Boston.com article talking about how the spring market has come early) we have seen a slow down that was swift and widespread. The combination of the stock market and the virus, as well as school and restaurant closures has left many people feeling uncertain about the future. When people are uncertain, they generally don’t make large purchases or big moves. I’ve had 3 clients this week who were ready to list for sale decide that they were going to hold off. And who can blame them? With the news and medical professionals showing us facts about the spread of this virus, who would want a stream of strangers in their homes?

Those who have lost large amounts in the stock market are also reevaluating their desire to make big purchases which has also compounded the already scarce listing inventory (if people aren’t moving, they aren’t listing their homes for sale). One silver lining is that interest rates are EXTREMELY low, lower than ever before. So those that are ready to move have the benefit of more purchasing power within their monthly payment budget. This is actually a great opportunity to be a buyer as rates are better than ever and many buyers aren’t able to enter the market without wanting to list their home for sale simultaneously.

As scary as this time is for many people, I think it’s important to remember that this too shall pass. We all need to do our part to help slow the spread so our hospitals are not inundated and those at higher risk are not unnecessarily exposed. I think we can expect a delay in the spring market but eventually, the sun will come out and people will be back ready to list and buy. What was usually a busy March, April, May, will probably push to May, June, July. If you’re planning to sell, don’t worry too much. My advice; Stay home, grab a cup of coffee and book, and relax, it’s going to be ok. In a few months houses will sell, people will buy and the world will keep rotating. But don’t forget to keep washing your hands!!

Seller Closing Costs

Posted In:
February 25, 2020

In what continues to be a “sellers market” we have many clients asking us what it will cost them to sell their property. Naturally, every transaction is different but here is a simple break down of Seller closing costs for your reference:

  1. Real Estate attorney fee: Approximately $1000 (depending on complication level of sale). A lot of people think they don’t need an attorney to sell their home – I’m here to tell you it’s a huge mistake to not have an attorney reviewing all the paperwork and ensuring that the legal aspect of the sale is done properly.
  2. Smoke Detector/Carbon Monoxide inspection: $50-$100, Although your agent will generally handle meeting the Fire department the seller is required to provide this certificate which generally runs $50 (single family) to $100 (multi family). This does not include the cost of any smoke/Co detector upgrades you may need to do to the property to makes sure it passes the inspection
  3. MA Excise Tax Stamps: $4.56 per $1000 of the sales price (.456%) They don’t call it Tax-achusetts for nothing, pay up! For example if you sell your home for $500,000.00. You’ll pay $2,280.00 in Excise Tax Stamps. Cheers to that!
  4. Realtor Commissions: Typically 5% of the sales price (generally split between seller agent and buyer agent). Having a good agent work on your behalf is a huge asset. I could go on and on about why for sale by owners are a nightmare, but I’ll spare you the lecture. Just hire an agent who is ready to work for you and you’ll be glad you did.
  5. Septic Costs: Varied, First you’ll need to get a Title V inspection done, hopefully you pass (yay!). If not you’ll need to get an engineering plan done (ball park $3000-$4000), then you’ll need to get quotes to install the septic. This can vary greatly depending upon the system.
  6. Miscellaneous expenses: Sometimes you have other unexpected items come up so budget in a few hundred for last minute issues.

Remodeling !!

September 17, 2019

I haven’t posted much about my house in ages, because, well… I haven’t posted at all in ages. Long story short, I had a baby (yes, that’s my excuse) and was trying to work full time, and act like a normal person on zero sleep, so really couldn’t find the time to post or brush my teeth on a regular basis. Now that we’re back up and brushing – I figured it was time for a little update!

We completely redid the outside, new porch, siding and windows (will post photos of that later) and then decided to gut the entire house inside (am I crazy? YES… but it is what it is). I’m super excited for the plans our architect put together, we changed a few things around but here is the plan so far. You know you’ve got kids and are over 30 when you’re MOST EXCITED about having a mud room… I literally asked for a new vacuum for my 34th birthday… hello loserville, it’s me your new pal Hillary.

Anyway… Check these out.

Super excited to see it all come together. We had this huge fireplace in the middle of the house that was so dated – we went back and forth on removing it or not because it was a big expense but ended up taking it out. It really opened up the space and gave us more options for the living room and allowed us to grab a bit more space for the kitchen.

The middle of the house was sagging so had to be lifted up.
Bye chimney!
This was our kitchen, but the kitchen is moving so this will be kid living room where I’ll shove all the toys and pretend I’m one of those people that has a clean house.

So…pro tip:

What’s the most important thing I’ve learned from remodeling houses and doing construction projects?

Whatever your budget is… double it. Legit, this is not a joke.

Whatever you think it will cost… it’ll cost double – for sure. And once you take something down or move something it inevitably leads to something else being wrong that you have to fix. So just plan on it being a shit show and break out the wine while you contemplate how to turn your tears into dollar bills.

And I forgot to mention, I’m living at my parents house while this all takes place. I know that I should be super grateful that they live close enough and will take me and my gaggle of children in but… I’m living at my parents house with a gaggle of children… know what I’m saying?!!!

Staging vs. not? Is it worth the money?

September 12, 2019

A lot of clients ask me to come view their property and give them advice on getting their property ready for showings and the open house. Generally we go through the process of picking and choosing how to best stage and declutter their home. After years of living in a house, things tend to pile up – and we all are attached to our favorite random items that might not mean anything to someone else.

Many times however, a seller has already emptied the home in order to move into their next property. This leaves the property vacant which can be hit or miss for photography and showings. 85% of Potential Buyers report that photos are the most important reason for them deciding to visit a home. Many sellers opt to stage a property via a professional staging company which is not only an additional out of pocket expense, but can run thousands of dollars for the seller. I am a huge fan of staging and think it is certainly worth the money if the seller is capable of spending the additional cash to get their home looking its best. Creating the right feel for buyers is so important and staging can bring new life to a home.

But what does a seller do if they don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on professional staging?

A cost effective alternative for traditional staging is virtual staging! We cover the cost of virtual staging for all of our sellers as an additional bonus to listing with us. Virtual staging can really provide that perfect FIRST IMPRESSION to buyers who are browsing photos in order to choose which open houses they will attend.

Here are some examples of virtual staging:

Virtually Staged Living room
Virtually Staged Kitchen

Best of Quincy!

Posted In:
March 12, 2019

Excited to announce we received this award! Thank you to all of our clients for your continued support!

A Realty Group Receives 2018 Best of Quincy Award

Quincy Award Program Honors the Achievement

QUINCY October 25, 2018 — 3A Realty Group has been selected for the 2018 Best of Quincy Award in the Real Estate Brokers category by the Quincy Award Program.

Each year, the Quincy Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Quincy area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2018 Quincy Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Quincy Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Quincy Award Program

The Quincy Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Quincy area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Quincy Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Quincy Award Program

How to get Poison Ivy… 4 times… a step by step tutorial.

Posted In:
June 14, 2017
I thought I was immune to poison ivy after a childhood of dirt rolling and naturing without a single case; I was positive that I could not get it. So when I started hand excavating the front hill of my house I wasn’t even considering the possibility of it. Coupled with the fact that I DID NOT SEE ANY poison ivy, AT ALL, it didn’t even cross my mind. Cut to one week later when I’m walking around looking like Jabba the Hut caught Leprosy (not cute), I was seriously pissed off.

The landscaping at my house was disastrous when I moved in, it was totally overgrown and looked like it hadn’t been touched for 20 years, so I decided I was going to take it on as one of my solo projects (also because every landscaper I surveyed about it, looked at it, and basically never called me again). So I came to terms with the fact that I was on my own and got to business. The difficult part about the landscaping at my house was not only that it was totally overgrown, but really the sheer scale of it. Normal people are like, “oh how cute, let me get a couple shrubs and plant a hydrangea…” and I’m all like, “Ok 66 linear feet, by 12, means 6 yards of mulch and 37 SHRUBS… that’s after I excavate the 12 feet of overgrowth, and dig the 37 holes and fill with a fertilizer mix, oh and the drought, have to factor in the drought, need granite cobble stones so a pallet of those at $1.75 a piece and I need 200 of those…” So, it wasn’t the easy peasy situation that my pinterest dreams are made of. Nevertheless I persisted…

At first I just had to clear the dead overgrowth, don’t have a lot of pictures but here is a good idea of what it looked like:

deep overgrowth

So given how serious the growth was, I had to get an excavator to first clear the space:

starting with a clean slate

Once it was cleared, I figured I was GOOD TO GO, no visible vines etc. so started digging those holes.  I have since learned that poison ivy doesn’t actually have to be visible for you to get it (real F**king cool). Apparently the oil of it, within the vines and leaves can spread onto other plants, onto rocks, onto gardening tools and clothing. So last summer I officially got it 4 TIMES, on my arms, face, one time DANGEROUSLY close to my lady parts, I am not kidding it was a NIGHTMARE. Poison ivy on your inner thighs is a new level of torture, you can’t even walk normally, TRUST ME… pure torture. Every time I thought “ok, I got this, I am fully covered in practically a HAZMAT suit,” gloves, long sleeves, rubber boots, whole nine… I STILL GOT IT.

I spent a large majority of the spring walking around with bandages taped all over my body to not scare away my clients. What’s worse; your real estate agent covered in opened wounds (barf) or covered in mysterious bandages?? I prefer the mystery… So after I planted all the shrubs (which looked oddly small once they were in – sort of a casualty of 66 linear feat of space) I decided I was going to weed mat the whole thing so no vines could grow up in-between all of my plantings. I weed matted at night because I was heavily medicated due to above referenced poison ivy and I couldn’t sleep, so no pictures really. Here is how that section ended up coming out;

Who knew I had a granite wall there?!

Why are these plants so tiny?!!!! They were much larger looking when I bought them.

So at that point I was finished with that project for the summer – cut to last week when I decided the top of this hill looked unfinished and started another project. I wanted the top of the hill (seen above) to look more complete, so I started edging out a new bed.

making a new bed

This seems like an easy task, but ripping up well established dirt might as well be ripping up cement. NOT EASY. Once I ripped up all of this grass I realized I had about a thousand pounds of grass with dirt attached to it to move somewhere which I hadn’t fully thought out…awesome. But what was in the grass roots?! Oh you know, just some more F**king poison ivy!!!! (face meet desk, desk -face, slam, slam, slam) Moving along…

Bed and shrubs...21 to be exact.

I got 21 more shrubs for the top, Japanese Holly, which looks similar to boxwood but grows faster. Boxwood is that super chic, great for a landscape architecture/style design plant but it grows and what I consider to be a glacial pace…I have no patience for this. If you have 20 years to watch shrubs grow, go for it, if not – pick something else. This is what weed matting looks like:

weed mat in between plants.

I bought a pallet of granite landscaping blocks to edge it all out and another 3 yards of mulch. After a lot of sweat, a jammed finger between granite blocks, and a moderate amount of blood (no tears), I finished the job.

Granite block edging

Flower and shrub bed

My Peonies in Full bloom

Another angle

So in conclusion… hire a landscaper.

 

New listing Drone shots!

Posted In:
June 6, 2017

Quick update, have been super busy – yay! Just got a new listing in my hometown of Scituate, MA and got some sweet drone shots. So this is what it feels like to be a bird?!!! Suddenly feeling sad that I can’t fly…

Anyway, great single family listing on the street next to the one I grew up on, this is my hood!! 02066 for life! 🙂

I spent my entire childhood on this beach <3

Was also lucky enough to book the super talented Brian Doherty to shoot the interior! He does some really amazing work, check out is website: http://www.briandohertypd.com

All interior photos by Brian Doherty:

Paris round 2, Air BnB I love you…

Posted In:
February 8, 2017

I am officially obsessed with Air BnB! Whoever created this site (hey rich guys I’m talking to you) is a genius. My best friend Danny and I decided we needed a little birthday get away to break the monotony of winter and since we both have a birthday on the same week, it was a match made in heaven, Paris heaven to be exact. Since it was my 3rd time to France and his first time to Europe (which is crazy to me, Europe is everything you need and more, if you haven’t been – drop what you are doing RIGHT NOW and run away to Europe) I decided to try out the famed Air BnB that everyone talks about. I know I probably should have gotten on this train sooner given how much I love to travel and how much I love to check out other peoples houses, (duh hillary, you are so behind the times) but I was always so skeptical that I would end up in some creepy axe murderer house filled with bugs and dirty pillows. Whelp, I admit it – I was wrong!

Air BnB has really got this niche market locked down and done right. They have all the reviews you could need from other people, solid pictures, and good feedback so you end up getting exactly what you expect. I was in Paris a year ago and stayed at the really beautiful hotel Notre Dame Saint Michel and it was great, but the room was tiny and it cost a zillion dollars. So since I didn’t want to share a tiny room with my best man friend (love you Danny, but you snore) I decided we needed to upgrade to an apartment. Air BnB had so many great options all over the city, with great photos etc. I was pretty set on staying the the Latin Quarter/ Saint Michel because it’s close to so many things. I found us an amazing 2 bed apartment, for less money than a hotel. Needless to say – we lived it up in this awesome apartment. I checked some local real estate offices while I was there and figured out that the place we were staying in was probably a million dollar 2 bed flat, for $345 a night (High season it’s $500). Um yes, please!

Here it is:

Living room

Dining room

Kitchen!

My room with private balcony!

exterior we had the Triple private balcony in middle, perfect for wine thirty.

So we pretty much had the best birthday ever! Dancing the night away at every gay bar in town (well I danced, Danny hit on cute guys) wine, baguettes, touring around, and all that Paris has to offer. But Danny and I both agreed that our apartment was one of the highlights. It’s amazing how when you travel your “home base” can really set the mood. Having space to spread out, have a little dinner party, make espresso, drink wine on our private balcony, etc. really made it extra special. So in conclusion… AIR BnB for life!! I’m drinking the Kool-Aid!

Walking the streets of Paris

Rose De Paris, huge ferris wheel that we rode, I had a panic attack at the top...good times

We went to the far North of the city for the Paris Flea Market

Birthday buddies on the Seine!

 

 

 

 

Charleston, SC & Porch vs. Deck vs. Patio…

Posted In:
January 21, 2017

I recently took my Mom on a 70th Birthday trip to Charleston, SC. I had been reading in Travel & Leisure magazine that it was the “Coolest City in America” and really had to prove this somewhat drastic statement for myself. As with anything opinions can vary from person to person but claiming a small town in the South was that amazing seemed a bit of a stretch. I’m always open to proving myself wrong so hopped on a flight with my favorite lady and headed down.

Initially I wasn’t all that impressed: small airport, lackluster developments, a lot of beige, and an overwhelming feeling that I had been mislead. After we arrived at our hotel we hit the town in search of a cocktail and that’s when I really started to get a feel for the city. All of the locals were extremely nice and willing to give suggestions, directions, and general information which is always appreciated when you want to get right to the good stuff. The downtown was lovely with a lot of shopping and restaurants to explore as well as some small parks and historic monuments. One of my favorite aspects is the bar scene (not just because I love a good drink) but because there are some really unique settings for bars, a church that has been renovated into a bar, old houses that have turned into restaurants, and roof top patios. I was impressed with a social scene and would certainly recommend Charleston as a Bachelorette destination for anyone.

My Mom suggested we take the “Old homes tour,” and never one to miss an opportunity to wander through a strangers house, I was immediately ready to rock. It was a great way to get a feel for the interiors of some of the beautiful mansions and historic homes that give Charleston its unique feel. Many of the homes have what’s called a “Piazza” which is basically a long open air porch that runs the length of the house and has multiple entries into the house, it’s usually held up by columns which provide a grand feel to what I would consider a gorgeous side porch. The original design plan was to help with the heat of the South by capturing the cross breeze and providing ventilation on a large scale to the house. Charleston is a lot of things, but in my mind it is the land of amazing porch/patio/veranda/decks…

Which got me somewhat confused; what really is the precise difference between all of these exterior sitting spaces? I always say deck when I mean porch and porch when I mean patio and patio when I mean veranda and then I think, “what am I even saying?” Well here it is to clarify for all of us;

Porch: First off it is COVERED (has a roof) and is external to the building, usually it is at the front or back of the house and can be enclosed with screen, glass, windows.

Deck: A deck is flat and has no roof, usually elevated or just above the ground level and has a railing, a place you would imagine having a BBQ grill, can many times connect two spaces or provide access to multiple doors. Usually made of wood construction.

Patio: Patios are on the ground and are a paved like area either made with stone, brick, slate, etc. It is a space in the grass that is made for dining and entertaining at ground level. Can be attached to the house or detached.

Balcony: These are always attached to the house and elevated. They can be covered or not covered and can protrude from the house or not (which would be a Juliette balcony).

Veranda: I find these difficult to distinguish from a porch because they are described in almost the same way many times. Basically they are a covered porch that starts at the entrance to the house and extends around the sides, they are also for the purpose of cross ventilation in the house and are more commonly seen in the South.

Got it? No? That’s ok, I’m still confused too. Anyway here are some pretty house pictures from Charleston, SC. Final analysis; an awesome town, good food, nice people, I wouldn’t call it the “Coolest City in America” but it gets a solid 4 stars.

Classic Charleston Piazza!

A beautiful Victorian style house.

Dying for this house by the water

Beautiful brick houses, elevated Piazza.

Double porch but made of iron handrail. So amazing.

I loved this kitchen, brick floor and built ins - and those windows!

There were also amazing gardens, I'd like to go back and take a garden tour.

Reykjavik street art

Posted In:
January 3, 2017

I was recently in Iceland for a week or so and spent a fair amount of time wandering through Reykjavik, the capitol. It’s a really hip city that surprised me with how awesome it was. The city itself is very walkable with all of the shops and restaurants in close proximity, accessed by a pedestrian walk way and small streets. Throughout the downtown there are a ton of amazing  restaurants and pubs, and even more shocking is how awesome the food is. It was a total surprise to me but honestly, I didn’t have one bad meal in Reykjavik – they have their food scene locked down! Even if you go into what might seem like a seedy dive bar, it’s pretty much the best burger and fries you’ve ever had. Needless to say I spent most of my time eating and drinking, I find it’s best to stick to what you’re good at, ya know?

While wandering downtown I noticed there are a ton of amazing building murals painted on the sides of buildings. Not just terribly thought out graffiti, but gorgeous pieces of art on the ENTIRE building. It turns out that about 10-15 years ago the city didn’t really pay much attention to unauthorized graffiti but in recent years (I assume with the influx of tourism) have started policing unapproved graffiti. In order to continue the tradition and keep the art scene alive many artists have begun to get approval from building owners to paint the murals, which in my opinion makes it even better. This way they get to spend the time planning and executing their piece and it also ensures that only talented artists get to graffiti the streets, win-win, if you ask me.

I should have taken more photos because there were so many unique murals, here are some of the ones I loved;

In a construction site so I couldn't get closer

Blood suckers!

Corner building covered

Because I'm ALWAYS on the hunt for Feminist propaganda.

This was pretty cool

This was on a cute side street

This was next door to our hotel on the waterfront

So cool

Loved this one too

And since people go to Iceland for scenery, here I am in naturing...