My Fixer upper – Finished (sort of)!

July 8, 2015

About 2 years ago a purchased my first house in Squantum, MA. (North Quincy really). I was, and still am totally obsessed with the location. I bought a little bungalow for myself and figured I’d fix it up as I went. Apparently, fixing a house on your own isn’t easy, at all! I did have some help from friends, family, and concerned passerby (Thank you random shirtless man for making sure I didn’t fall of my ladder and die while cleaning my gutters in the pouring rain, I owe you one sir).

What was a major love/hate relationship with fixing stuff, turned out to be an amazing learning experience. In two years I feel like I have learned years’ worth of useful knowledge and am a regular fixture at Home Depot and Curry Ace Hardware (special thanks to the late night Home Depot crew who dealt with me while I was drunk and ran out of whatever material at 10pm). I now can walk into any house and have a much more in-depth understanding of what it takes to make a home exactly how you want it to be. Trust me, it’s not at all like HGTV, AT ALL, it’s a million times harder, and messier.

Below are some photos of my finished product. I got an AWESOME tenant (I love her) and have now bought and even BIGGER piece of Junk house that I can document the progress of on this blog (although, I pretty much always forget to update this thing).  Before I share the “After” photos, I wanted to give a few tips to my fellow “Do it yourself-ers” who are just getting started or considering remodeling a house or condo on their own.

1. However long you think it’s going to take…Triple it.

Seriously, things take a lot longer than you’d like. For example. I decided to put a front porch on my house to make it look less like a trailer. Just a small little porch for friends. Well a porch requires permits, and inspections, and an actual contractor who is AVAILABLE to build your porch (everyone is busy right now who is in the trades so get ready to wait). Aside from buying all the materials which may or may not be in stock and need to be ordered (yes you have to SPECIAL ORDER even the most obvious things), you have to handle all these other unforeseen things. Let’s say you have a hose on your house, hoses are nice to water plants and whatnot, but if you want to build a porch on your house, well you have to move the hose, and in order to do that you need a plumber, and well plumbers are busy! See where I’m going with this?? IT TAKES TIME!! Sit back, get a cocktail and get ready to wait. Building a porch doesn’t take a week, it takes a month or more, and there you have it.

2. However much you think it will cost….Double it.

So I wanted a new front door, pretty normal right? I went to Home Depot, they have nice doors for $175.00…SCORE! Well no; are you going to install a front door yourself? …SURE!! I CAN DO ANYTHING –  I AM WOMAN, HEAR ME ROAR! No, actually you can’t, I’m smart and I couldn’t either, so don’t feel bad about yourself. Call a contractor or your favorite uncle who lets you pay him in beer (this takes 3 times as long fyi and is usually crooked). And then you have to pay people, even if it’s in beer, it still costs money. New front door? $600.00, easy.

3. Get the right tools to do stuff, it makes it a billion times easier.

You want to paint? Sure! You should, you can save a lot of money painting yourself! But get the right tools, like a Roller extension (easy little thing that you put on your roller for high walls so you don’t have to climb up and down a frigging ladder all day, saves you hours and back pain). Get a small set of your standard tools, screw drivers, pliers, MEASURING TAPE, hammer, etc. and keep them handy. Tightening up a toilet, or changing out hardware on cabinets is easy peasy – IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TOOLS. (Ikea screw box and tools DO NOT COUNT).

4. Don’t be cheap.

If you buy the cheap stuff, it breaks, and also sucks. Don’t waste your time and money, just get the real thing the first time and get to work.

5. Nobody’s going to help you so don’t get all teary when they don’t.

Your cousin, Uncle, Friend from band camp, all said they would “totally come over on a Saturday and help you remodel your entire house!!!” … NO, they won’t. Literally, it seems glamorous, but after about 2 hours of painting Peach Pagoda on your bathroom walls you can pretty much guarantee yourself they never call you again.

6. Think about something for a long time before you do it, and do it in the CORRECT ORDER!

I can’t stress this enough. Before you decide to do a project, get an understanding of what it entails so you don’t have to do it all over again because you didn’t realize it corresponded with something else you were going to do. For example, you decide to re-finish your floors, but then want to take a wall down? Well what do you think goes where the wall once was? FLOORING, and if you want it to match you should probably do them all at the same time, know what I mean? And really think about the whole picture before you do something, you may end up moving stuff around and all your hard work and more importantly all your MONEY gets wasted.

7. Don’t over improve.

I mean this in the most sincere way. Some people have a moderate house and they think they are building the friggin Taj Mahal. Know your neighborhood, know who your end buyer is going to be and don’t over spend. If you are in a moderate area, don’t do a $70,000.00 kitchen and expect to make that $70,000.00 back. You don’t necessarily make back what you put into a house and you need to keep that in mind. And not everyone has the same taste as you. You may love bead board and starfish…guess what, NOT EVERYONE ELSE DOES. Keep that in mind.

The most important thing is to take your time and not waste money! 

Here are some of my before/ after pictures. A lot of the updates don’t really show up in the photos but trust me, this place is like night and day!! Moving onto another project!! Stay tuned for updates!

Front Before

after with porch!

kitchen before

Kitchen after! Took down 1/2 wall, granite, new sink, crown molding etc.

 

side view

 

before bathroom

granite, new sink, lighting

These were my floors

yay new floors, also - recessed lighting!

bedroom and broken closet

This closet rocks! Took down the whole wall and rebuilt

made this a dining room

sun porch

Laundry room nightmare, I wish I had a before photo! Turned out ok!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grecian inspiration

February 25, 2015

 

I recently took a trip to Greece – Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini and it was TO DIE FOR. We’re talking totally amazing, knock your socks off gorgeous. The architecture is so unique and bright when juxtaposed against the dry desert like climate and geology. 

Check out some of my photos:

The colors, the light, the people – gahh I want to live there forever! It was an amazing trip with some really beautiful spots. The hotels we stayed in were so unique and had gorgeous design elements to them. I’m channeling my Grecian woman in all houses I look at from here on out.

Here are some Grecian inspired design ideas I’m feeling lately:

Wood rafters painted white, with royal blue accents.

Classy and modern all in one. Need these in my new room.

Everything about this bathroom ... I want.

For those winter days in Boston that you want to feel glam.

I'm dying over here. I need THIS, now.

Modern and gorgeous - GOLD is a must.

I’m really glad gold is coming back into fashion. The 90’s brassy/gold hardware really killed the look for quite some time, but fortunately people are moving back around and reusing true gold toned fixtures and hardware – PERFECT for my Grecian dreams. YES YES YES. I could sit here all day foaming at the mouth over how much I love Greece and it’s style.

 

Trash Picking – DIY!

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November 6, 2014

Ok, this may sound strange (like most things I say) but I am OBSESSED with trash picking. I mean, I don’t like rummage through looking for snacks or anything but in the city I live in, everything gets put out on trash day. I kid you not, there is so much awesome stuff (in 30 years I’m destined to be a hoarder) on the curb. I love getting random furniture off the side of the road and bringing it back to life! You can get some really unique stuff, which is generally old and WAY better quality than the ikea crap everyone buys these days.

I was driving down the street and found this amazing piece of furniture that had lived in an old lady’s bedroom for 40 years, and was all yellow and nasty from cigarette smoke but it was this amazing shape – kind of a retro mod style that really grabbed my attention so I HAD TO HAVE IT.

I set up shop in my drive way and got to work. If you want to do something like this (and do it right so it doesn’t look like crap), here’s what you’ll need:

It’s important to use OIL paint with a HVLP sprayer (which stands for High Velocity low pressure). Using a sprayer is way better than a brush as it helps you avoid brush strokes and 

keeps the paint going on evenly to give you a factory finish look. Wilbond is important to use before sanding as it takes off all the old lacquer and shine. Then Sanding to make it all smooth and also remove old smells/stains.  Dry Dex is a very versatile product you can use all over your house, to fill nail holes, to fix little things that need to be painted etc. it’s an awesome product.  You should also wear a breathing mask (not pictured) so you don’t huff all the chemicals.

In the beginning

Remove old hardware

Fill holes with drydex

Spray with primer (white), keep coats light, let dry

Spray with color. OIL PAINT takes longer to dry so be patient!

Add new hardware and BAM! Trash - CHIC!

I wish I had a better camera because this thing looks awesome in real life. It’s very sturdy and is made with quality materials so I was super happy with how it turned out. The entire project only cost me $30.00 (but I had a lot of the materials, which are worth investing in if you like this kind of stuff).  On to the NEXT!!

 

Custom Molding created locally

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November 6, 2014

Have you ever gone to Home Depot looking for something unique and just can’t find it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m obsessed with Home Depot just as much as the next DIY woman, but it’s generally all stock material and it can get boring if you’re looking for something different. I was lucky enough to ride along with a contractor the other day and discover and amazing hidden gem right here in MA that I wanted to share with you. Anderson McQuaid in Cambridge is a super cool local business that creates custom moldings, trim, lumber, flooring and what not. Which is basically like finding someone who can build you your own custom unicorn!! So cool. You can pretty much design any pattern you want and they can make it for you. Or if you travel somewhere and see some amazing trim that you want to recreate…Anderson McQuaid can do it (if you’re not on a Home Depot budget).

Moldings can really make a huge difference in setting your home apart from every other stock house, and working with a company like Anderson McQuaid it gives you the opportunity to really get creative. Plus, you can support a locally owned business which is really where it’s AT!

You can check out their website which is not that great (1997 called, they want your site updated) but they’re located at 170 Fawcett st. Cambridge, MA . Although, don’t be surprised if you get yelled at by the guys that work there. I was running around trying to snap pics and kept getting yelled at, which was obviously worth it so I could share a few photos!

Located in Cambridge

All kinds of lumber to choose from!

Nice Wood

Ok this is really cool. It filters out all the saw dust from the wood being milled and designed/cut. Basically a massive dust collector.

San Francisco! BOOM!

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August 6, 2014

Just returned from a quick weekend in San Francisco, CA for one of my lovely friends weddings. What an amazing city it is (I lived there for a short stint in 2007 and still have a major love for it). I spent the majority of Thursday walking the city and checking out the houses, which are AMAZING. I’m loving the Marina District – boasting GORGEOUS views of the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco is known for having some of the most expensive real estate in the US, and I can certainly see why.

“The median price of homes currently listed in San Francisco is $895,000 while the median price of homes that sold is $930,500.” – Via Zillow

So basically; bring a million and prepare to be average if you want to buy in downtown.

Financing? Stay CALM!!

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June 25, 2014

If you’ve never bought a house then you probably aren’t accustomed to the stress associated with spending your entire life savings on one thing. One thing that may have some major issues attached with it, OR that could be your dream home for your Leave it to Beaver dream life.

Unless you’re rollin in cash, you’ll probably need financing. Financing is the MAKE OR BREAK of a deal. Right now I’m dealing with two financing extensions on two sales, and let me tell you if you think you’re closing Friday, and then you find out that You’re NOT, panic ensues.

I wanted to share some ways to avoid financing issues for buyers, I hope these tips help!

1. Research your lender, find out if other people you know have used them and have had good results. Good reviews, or friends with positive experiences are a good place to start.

2. Find a lender who is RESPONSIVE. If you send your potential lender 3 emails and 2 phone calls and they don’t get back to you quickly, find another lender. When crunch time comes, you want someone who can get back to you quickly so you don’t lay awake at night biting your finger nails.

3. Get the paperwork in early! This isn’t like studying for final exams in college, the day before = no bueno. EARLY, EARLY, EARLY, as soon as you know your lender needs something, SEND IT. Don’t procrastinate on getting papers into your lender. The sooner you have everything in, the sooner they can send it to underwriting. (The Underwriter controls the financing, and is basically the  dream crusher or magical wizard of the deal).

4. Don’t spend up a storm while you’re trying to get financing, don’t quit your job, don’t get fired, don’t be an idiot! You heard it here first, when you’re trying to get a loan you need to keep all of your finances in order. The lender will need your final pay stubs, and account info right before closing, so just because you are pre-approved doesn’t mean they are going to give you the loan. Don’t mess it up by buying a new car, or going on a shopping spree, or being a dumb ass. You’re welcome in advance.

5. Construction Loans. If you’re getting a construction loan get your contractor lined up in advance. If your contractor is also a dumb ass, you’re screwed. Banks like paperwork, they like people who are legitimate and not your uncle’s friend Joe the handyman. There is paper work involved, they need licenses, estimates on paper, etc. etc. If your contractor isn’t good at that type of stuff, if he’s an illegal, if he doesn’t have an email, if he can’t put estimates on paper, find another one (trust me I love the inexpensive people as much as the next do it yourself-er, but the banks don’t). You need an organized contractor who can handle the paperwork, do it properly and not mess up your loan.

6. Have a good attorney. If you are buyer, some people think they don’t need an attorney. If you don’t have one, you should get one. Sometimes the banks will suggest an attorney to review the P&S for you, which is fine, as long as that attorney is responsive to your questions and needs. If you hire a separate attorney to represent you, a lot of times they are more willing to spend time making sure you understand what is going on. It really depends on the attorney, just like it really depends on the real estate agent (most are terrible some are REALLY good). Everyone hates lawyers until you need one to save your deposit, or fix your purchase agreement, and then you love them. Get a real estate attorney, not someone that does divorces and has never negotiated a P&S.

7. Financing contingency date – KNOW IT, LOVE IT, DON’T FORGET IT! This needs to be a more important date than your wedding date. Do not miss your mortgage contingency date. If you don’t have financing in place by this date, make sure your attorney or agent requests an extension. If you don’t request this extension in time…stab someone because you may lose your deposit.

Hopefully this was helpful. The most important thing is to have a good team behind you when buying. Get an agent that knows what they are doing, get a good real estate attorney, and research your lender and make sure they are responsive.

SOLD! Catching up with some of my recent sales!

Posted In:
February 16, 2014

Trying to catch up with the blog and update you all to some of my recent sales! I love representing buyers and sellers and have had a very busy year so far. Here’s a recap of some of my recent work. If you know of anyone in need of an agent, let me know! (Hillary3a@gmail.com)

I represented the buyer of this fixer upper in Weymouth on Great Republic Rd. It was a “Homepath” property which you can look up by state. It’s somewhat of a unique purchase process in that you have to have your agent submit everything to homepath online and there isn’t much of a negotiation, you either are ‘Accepted’ or not. Also, you sign the Purchase and Sale agreement before you do your home inspection which is different than a usual transaction where you do your inspections before the purchase and sale. The buyer of this property plans to remodel everything! Sold for $250,000.00

I represented the buyer of this property on Rice Rd. In Quincy also a major fixer upper, but in a fantastic neighborhood! Sold: $280,000.00

I represented the seller of this property on Darrow Rd. in Quincy (Hough’s Neck) very up and coming area filled with families. This house had a great kitchen and was two blocks from the ocean. Sold: $334.000.00

I represented the buyers of this awesome single family in North Quincy on Warwick St. Cute, cozy and had amazing coffered ceilings in the living room. Sold: $310,000.00

I love my clients, this family was awesome to work wtih!

I represented the buyers of this fantastic colonial in Weymouth too. This house is in a great location and perfect for their work commutes. We looked around for a while in a very difficult market and was so happy when we found a house they loved!

I represented the seller of this great condo in Weymouth also at 73 Broad Reach. Amazing water views and a resort like amenities.

And the buyer of this condo on Quincy Shore Drive in North Quincy! This was sold to a first time buyer client of mine who I worked with for over a year to find her the right place! We looked at 30 plus condos until we found the one. It was certainly worth the wait and work!

How cute is this couple? I sold their two family for them and then sold them this amazing ocean side home in Quincy on Albatross Rd. This house is architecturally so unique and they made the inside look so chic (I wish I had pictures to show you). We hunted and hunted until I found them this house that wasn’t on the market and was able to organize a private sale with the seller.

The people who owned the house above on Albatross needed a house STAT once I sold their house before it was on the market. So we looked high and low with a serious crunch for time and managed to find them an amazing house in Hingham on Longmeadow Rd. It’s an ideal home for them and their new baby.

Last but not least I worked with the buyers of this brand new construction home on Belcher St. in Holbrook. Our office sold their house and we needed to find them a house too. We work well under pressure!

Phew!! That’s a lot to catch up on! I’ve been busy, busy, busy!! Hopefully this gives you a little window into what I’ve been up to and some of my residential property sales. As much as I love specializing in multi-family sales for investors, I get a lot of satisfaction helping wonderful families and people find a home they will love for years to come!

I’ve been working on a lot of other projects as well that I can’t wait to tell you about!

Celeb Mansion of the moment…

Posted In:
January 5, 2014

In keeping with his movie that is BLOWING UP right now t “The Wolf of Wall Street” which by the way my mother calls “a porn.” I decided it would be appropriate to share some photos of Leonardo DiCaprio’s Malibu house he just sold (last week). It was on the market for a bit and then he dropped the price. Also available for rent at $75,000.00 per month.

The spacious beach retreat in the highly sough after Malibu waterfront (exact address: 23736 Malibu Colony Rd. Malibu, CA 90265) area sold for $17,350,000.00. Originally listed at $23,000,000.00 he dropped the price on the 7 bedroom 6 bath private retreat. 

Check it out:

 

Deval Patrick’s Milton Mansion

January 3, 2014

Ever wonder what Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s house looked like?  Well thanks to google and my ability to search public record, and old MLS listings… I can show you.

He and his wife originally purchase the property in 1989 for $560,000.00. It’s currently assessed at $1,778,900.00. The house consists of 6 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and 9 (yes NINE) fireplaces. It’s just under 7,000 sqft. and sits on .76 Acres on Hinckley street in Milton, MA.

They were on the market for a year at $1,500,000.00 but didn’t sell. So if you want to buy it, give me a shout and I’ll track Deval down and get you in. Seriously, I will…

Check it out:

Is it me or is he kind of a BABE?

exterior

Exterior 2

Interior stair case

Library

Lounge area

A little holiday cheer in the Sun Room

Dining Room

I hate to be mean but the pastel pallet is killing me. Looks terrible. Change it up Deval!

Kitchen Island

Breakfast table

Nice back patio

Driveway

And there you have it! Needs some modernization but still is a beautiful home with classic lines and historic beauty.

Investing in a Multi-family! SOLD!

Posted In:
January 1, 2014

I’ve been doing a lot of work on Multi- Families lately. It’s a type of property I have a lot of experience with because I started doing rentals when I first got into the Real estate industry. I’ve been in hundreds maybe over 1,000 multi-families in the last few years. One of the important things to consider when buying or selling a multi- family property is the rent roll (simply put, how much are your tenants paying you?).

A lot of experienced investors have “Cap Rates” that they have to meet in order to purchase a property. Cap Rate is short for Capitalization Rate which is a ratio between the net operating income (income after all expenses) and the purchase price of the property (or the market value of the property).

For example (And I’m terrible at math so don’t worry this is easy):

You buy a property for $1,000,000.00, after all the expenses to operate the property ( Heat, repairs, landscaping, etc.) you will make $100,000.00 per year (net income), so you take the net income and divide it by the purchase price and you get .10 or 10%.

Every investor has a different Cap Rate that they look for, some are high like 10 – 15% and won’t consider anything less while others are ok with 5% because they really like the property or the particular location and think the value of the investment will increase over time. It really depends on what your game plan is and if you want to hold the property as the value increases over a longer period of time, or if you want better immediate investment turn around like 10% which is better than keeping your money in a savings account etc. Also, you may be looking to buy a multi-family and move into one of the vacant units, which is a great way to have your other tenants decrease your cost of living. Just make sure you review current leases and verify that the other tenants are paying what you’ve been told they’re paying.

Being a landlord can be a total nightmare if you don’t know what you’re doing. You have to make sure you have the time it takes to manage your property or you can afford to hire someone to manage it for you. Also, make sure you either hire an agent to find you tenants, or pre-screen your tenants before you accept them as applicants. Also, when buying a are property consider the unit size and what type of tenants you might attract. You may prefer to have families that are more stable and long term tenants so you’re looking for 3+ bedrooms, while others may be next to a subway and perfect for professionals and all 1 bedrooms or studios. Consider your tenants and the location of the property before purchasing.

Selling multi families and larger buildings is my favorite type of property to sell, here are a few of my recent Multi Family Sales this summer:

I Listed and sold this AMAZING 2 family in Quincy for $490,000.00 - It's gorgeous inside!

I listed this series of 4 town homes for $1,275,000.00

I represented the buyer of this cute 2 family in Hull. Sold for $307,000.00

I've currently got this 2 family on the market for $425,000.00 - HUGE LOT, which is very rare.

I listed and sold this 4 family in Weymouth for $479,000.00

I listed this 4 family for $669,000.00 and sold it for $31,000.00 OVER asking at $700,000.00. ..So that was awesome.

Also represented the buyer of this amazing 4 family in Braintree. Sold for $534,000.00.

So it was a great summer for multi-family sales! If you have any questions regarding buying or selling a multi-unit building I’m certainly here to help (You can email me at Hillary3a@gmail.com).

Just remember…EVERY Property is different and has different items to address!