Archive for February, 2012

Why Consumers Still Need An Agent – A Reprint from Trulia

While there is no question that today’s consumer is computer savvy and uses the internet to find homes and make decisions on how much a house is worth, these points from Trulia (an online website for home listings) points out the important role that the agent still plays in the home buying and selling process:


In a world where the Internet makes marketing miracles possible and  home data seems to flow free, every once in a while you’ll hear of  someone attempting to buy or sell without an agent.

While some stories speak of success, they also reveal the time,  expertise, and energy that go into a sale and the indisputable benefits  of having an agent.

Here are four ways a recent story of an Australian owner taking charge of his property marketing showed that marketing and managing a home is a time-consuming  undertaking and why now, more than ever, smart consumers need to use a  real estate agent. The story was that, thanks to social media, a  homeowner sold his Californian bungalow for $A1.05 million, $135,000  above the asking price.

1) Online marketing takes time and expertise

According to  various Down Under news sites, the owner set up a website, blog,  Twitter feed, YouTube videos, and a Picasa photo page for the home.

This  story illustrates two things – both that online marketing works, and  that it takes hours of effort. This home sold above its asking price as a  result of the interest generated by a professional’s online marketing  efforts — Opray is a professional online marketer who spent many hours  every day promoting his home through these multiple channels. Most sellers don’t have this level of expertise or the time to spend on the  effort.


2) A home’s information alone is not enough – every home lives in a market

Opray was quoted in the National Business Review, “I know my house better than any agent. Who better to sell the house than me?”

This  comment is typical of someone who doesn’t realize that knowing about a  home is just the first step. The real key to moving a listing is knowing  how that home fits into the market – and only a professional brings  that kind of focus and real experience.


3) Showings and connections sell homes

From TheMoveChannel.Com: “Opray aimed to bring as many buyers to the home’s blog as possible, giving them a personal insight into the house.””

To  sell his property, Opray had to develop a following and create  connections online. This is easy for agents, who are already tapped into  a network of people buying and selling.


4) Even the smartest use an agent for expertise

Even with all of Opray’s social media efforts to help sell his home on his own, in the end he hired an agent.


Garden Projects for February –

It is with excitement and pleasure that I introduce another guest blogging from the Billerica Garden Club – whether you have a green thumb or not, owning a home means when that we want, when someone drives by our home, to get noticed.  It is not always about the paint or fancy lawn item.  It could be that well manicured lawn or beautiful shrubs and flowers.  It’s an expression of you.  Let’s get started.  And if you like what you read, visit their website at


Gardening in February?  Yes, you can dream up a great garden this time of year and lift your spirits up.  Now is a great time to look at books and garden magazines and plan your gardens out whether it is a flower garden or vegetable garden that you are planning on doing.  Take a section at a time and work out a design plan then put in on paper and take the time to decide what flowers or vegetables you want to have there.  Books and magazines give you a great list of flowers and descriptions of best places to plant them in your yard.  Start a garden journal for the new growing season and jot down your ideas, hopes and goals for your great outdoors.   Garden journals become excellent references year after year, helping you keep track of how and what you grow, as well as reminding you of your planting successes – and failures.  If you took pictures of your garden last year look at them again and see if you need to make any changest to your garden this year.


Plants from last year

Did you take in some plants from last summer?  I took in a few Geraniums and they are doing beautifully (to my surprise!) blooming profusely and it is a pleasure to see this in February of course I have them in a sunny window and I also make sure I water them often.  Did you take any plants in last fall how are they doing?  Now is a good time to add fertilizer to your plants to get them ready for when you put them outside.  You could purchase a orchid to put in your house or drop by a garden center to see what plants are available.  Check out this website for African Violets:  I just love African Violets inside the home and I also enjoy planting Pansies outside they are one of the earliest plants and can tolerate the cold weather.  Check out this website on Pansies:


If you planted bulbs last fall soon the Crocuses will be starting to show up soon as well as violas and inside a Christmas cactus might bloom again.  Consider making a plant Terrarium to test out plants see this website on making one:


Check out this wall Terrarium at Modern Living:


Those feathered friends

The first bird to signal that spring is near is a Red-Breasted Robin and they have colorful reddish-orange feathers on their breast.  Did you know that as songbirds, the American male robins can often be heard singing a lovely tune late into the evening. It has been said when night starts to fall, the last birds you will hear singing will be robins. They are usually the first to begin singing in the morning as well, when they get up to start their very active day. In terms of food, their diet consists of mainly of beetles, fruits and berries.  Check out this website on Robins it is a great read:   Have you ever noticed what birds are in your back yard?


Flower Shows, Farmers Markets and Garden Centers

You can also check on indoor farmers markets and previous summer farmers markets like: and flower shows like the Connecticut Flower Show:  and the Boston Flower Show there is also a Vermont Conference check this out: take a class on gardening there are plenty out there to take check out this one from the New England Wild Flower Society and how about this one at Tower Hill Botanic Garden   Visit garden centers to get ideas on how to set up your garden.


Winter Sowing

Winter Sowing is a great idea at this time of year what you do is make mini-greenhouses which can be made from recyclables; there are no heating devices, no energy wasting light set-ups or expensive seed starting devices.  Check out this website on Winter Sowing:



Here are more ideas for February:

*Order perennial plants and bulbs now for cut flowers this summer. Particularly good choices are phlox, daisies, coreopsis, asters and lilies. Send off seed orders early this month to take advantage of seasonal discounts. Some companies offer bonus seeds of new varieties to early buyers.


*Check stored bulbs, tubers and corms. Discard any that are soft or diseased.


*Don’t remove mulch from perennials too early. A warm day may make you think spring is almost here but there may be more cold weather yet to come.


*Branches of forsythia, pussy willow, quince, spirea, and dogwood can be forced for indoor bloom.  When collecting the branches from forsythia, quince, redbud, pussy willows, and other spring-blooming shrubs and trees to force indoors make long, slanted cuts.  Simply cut branches of flowering woody plants once you can spot the tiny developing buds.  Submerge the branches in cold water (like the tub) for a couple of hours or up to a full day. Then stick just the ends in a bucket of cold water about a foot deep for a week in a cool (no warmer than 60 degrees F) spot. Arrange in a vase, put in a warm room, and watch the buds open over the next few days.

Change the water every four days.


*Late winter is the time to prune many deciduous trees. Look over your plants now and remove dead, dying, or unsightly parts of the tree, sprouts growing at or near the base of the tree trunk and crossed branches.


* If bird feeding has been a favorite activity this winter, order trees and shrubs which provide cover and small fruits for your feathered friends. Consider species such as crabapple and hawthorn which can help lure hungry birds from cultivated fruits, if planted on the opposite side of the yard.


*Check any vegetables you have in storage. Dispose of any that show signs of shriveling or rotting.


*This year plan to grow at least one new vegetable that you’ve never grown before; it may be better than what you are already growing. The new dwarf varieties on the market which use less space while producing more food per square foot may be just what you’re looking for.


*Don’t start your vegetable plants indoors too early. Six weeks ahead of the expected planting date is early enough for the fast growth species such as cabbage. Eight weeks allows enough time for the slower growing types such as peppers.


*Prune fruit trees and grapes in late February or early March after the worst of the winter cold is passed but before spring growth begins.


* Fertilize fruit trees as soon as possible after the ground thaws but before blossom time.


*Late February is a good time to air layer such house plants as dracaena, dieffenbachia and rubber plant, especially if they have grown too tall and leggy.


*Check all five growing factors if your house plants are not growing well. Light, temperature, nutrients, moisture, and humidity must be favorable to provide good growth.


*Repair and paint window boxes, lawn furniture, tools and other items in preparation for outdoor gardening and recreational use.  This is also a great time to clean your garden tools and garden equipment.  Check out this video on cleaning garden tools:



Top “to do’s” for February

  • Think about last year’s garden      so you can look ahead to the new season. One of the things you will want      to do is collect those beautiful seed catalogs, find those “must have”      annuals and select some unusual varieties of veggies.


  • Check your tools inventory to      see if you need any new ones. It is worth spending a few months talking to      other gardeners, checking catalogs, and surfing the Internet before buying      so you will know exactly what you want and need.


  • Send for plant catalogs. It is      a good idea to order early because nursery inventories are usually in      limited supply.


  • Start indoor seeds of annuals      that require a long growing season, e.g. lobelia, petunia, vinca,      snapdragon, verbena, etc.


  • Prune away storm-damaged      branches promptly from trees and shrubs in order to prevent tearing the      bark and other damage.


  • Unfortunately, a few warm days      can stimulate plants into new growth. If you are beginning to see life in      your dormant shrubs be prepared to protect them for when another cold snap      occurs. Tender new growth is much more sensitive to cold than their      dormant counterpart. Covering large plants is difficult, but you can throw      on some extra mulch or even a cardboard box over a small shrub.


Zone Maps and Frost

As a rule of thumb, start most seeds six to eight weeks before your region’s last frost date.  Get general ideas of your last average frost dates from a garden map, but to be sure, give any local garden center a quick call.  Check out the Zone Map at the National Gardening Association’s web site:


Garden Projects

Now is an excellent time to start some of those garden hammer-and-nail projects you’ve wanted to do — window boxes, planters, arbors, and more. Check out for a list of dozens of garden projects.


Well I think that will keep me busy for the rest of February since I haven’t started yet to do any of these suggestions but it will be great to start thinking of gardening again and the warm spring weather I can already feel the warmth of the Sun and hear the birds singing.  So I’m off to start looking at my garden catalog for ideas!



February On My Mind and Heart – Guest Blogger Annette Presseau

When I think of the month of February I think of snowstorms because I live in the New England and snow is the norm this time of month but this year we have had a very mild winter so far and not much snow which is very unusual.  I actually miss the snow (I know that sounds a bit crazy!) but when it snows there is a calmness after it stops and a serenity which is very peaceful and calming which is something in our busy lives that we sometimes miss.  Have you ever heard the saying to “stop and smell the roses”?   In our daily lives we need to stop and smell the roses sometimes to be thankful for what we have because there is always someone else who is worse off than we are.  Have you ever gone out to put the trash out and looked up on a clear night and just admire the moon and the stars?  Our lives are just a small bit of the whole universe and it’s pretty amazing!  So, stop and look sometimes at the world around you and be amazed at what you see!


Flowers, Plants, Flowers!

Yes, it is too early to plant flowers but what about getting some house plants to liven up the dreariness of February or pick up some cut flowers to freshen or brighten up your home?  Flowers will definitely lift up your spirits!  What about changing your décor maybe move the furniture around or add some new decorations.  Even a essential oil diffuser would add fragrance to a room. When the weather gets you down do something that makes you feel good and you will be amazed at how much better it will make you feel.


Research has shown that these 10 plants below are the most effective all-around in counteracting off gassed chemicals and contributing to balanced internal humidity:

  • Areca palm
  • Reed palm
  • Dwarf date palm
  • Boston fern
  • Janet Craig dracaena
  • English ivy
  • Australian sword fern
  • Peace Lily
  • Rubber plant
  • Weeping fig

Read more at:

In the website above it is suggested that one plant should be allowed for approximately 10 square yards of floor space, assuming average ceiling heights of 8 to 9 feet. This means that you need two or three plants to contribute to good air quality in the average domestic living room of about 20 to 25 square yards.

Although many plants like light, they do not all have to be placed near windows. Many indoor plants originated in the dense shade of tropical forests and have a high rate of photosynthesis.  These are ideal for the home and can be placed in darker corners.  When positioning plants try to strike a balance between light and ventilation because the effect of plants on indoor air pollution appears to be reduced if they are set in a draft – very interesting isn’t it?


What else is good to do in February?

February is also a great month for experimenting with cooking meals you get a two for one punch you heat up your house and get a healthy meal!  If you are eating but finding that your energy level is not up where it should be then check out the 10 foods that are supposed to help kick energy into high gear:  Apples, Avocados , Blueberries, Citrus fruits, Oatmeal, Peanut Butter, Raw nuts, Sweet potatoes, Watermelon and Yogurt.  I started eating Yogurt again and I do find that it does make me feel better.


What about that medicine cabinet?

If you’re like me you have too much stuff in that medicine cabinet and maybe this is a good time of year to clean it out and update your first-aid kit. You can visit this website: to find out about safe disposal of your medicines.  Make sure that you check expiration dates on everything and get rid of what is outdated.  I know that I have some things that I haven’t checked in quite a while.


Museums anyone?

This is also a great time to visit museums and there are a lot of them out there just check online to find different ones to visit.   Check out this website for Boston museums:


Exercise anyone?

Cross-country skiing benefits heart and soul and knows no age barriers and the greatest part of cross-country skiing is the sheer joy of being active outdoors at a time of year when many go into hibernation.   Just plain old walking does wonders for your heart and is a great exercise.  What do you do to exercise in the winter months?

February also makes me think of having a healthy heart and ways that I can improve my health in general. Recently I read on the Internet that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and is a major cause of disability. The most common heart disease in the United States is coronary heart disease, which often appears as a heart attack. In 2010, an estimated 785,000 Americans had a new coronary attack, and about 470,000 had a recurrent attack. About every 25 seconds, an American will have a coronary event, and about one every minute will die from one. Do you know what the Heart Attack Symptoms are? I know that I didn’t until I looked at this website:



New Year’s Resolution List

How are you doing with your resolution list?  Were you able to at least do one thing on the list?  I haven’t succeeded yet but I’m still trying to achieve it.  Remember that it takes 8 tries to change a habit so keep on trying and don’t give up.


Have a Heart – Pay Attention to Your Ticker

Heart attacks don’t always strike out of the blue — there are many symptoms we can watch for in the days and weeks leading up to an attack. But the symptoms may not be the ones we expect. And they can be different in men and women, and different still in older adults. Last year, for example, a landmark study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Institute found that 95 percent of women who’d had heart attacks reported experiencing symptoms in the weeks and months before the attack — but the symptoms weren’t the expected chest pain, so they went unrecognized.

Don’t let that happen to you. Here are some common heart symptoms you’re likely to ignore — and shouldn’t.


Nausea & Stomach Pain

One of the most overlooked signs of a heart attack is nausea and stomach pain. Symptoms can range from mild indigestion to severe nausea, cramping, and vomiting. Others experience a cramping-style ache in the upper belly. Women and adults over age 60 are more likely to experience this symptom and not recognize it as tied to cardiac health.  Most cases of stomach ache and nausea aren’t caused by a heart attack, of course. But watch out for this sign by becoming familiar with your own digestive habits; pay attention when anything seems out of the ordinary, particularly if it comes on suddenly and you haven’t been exposed to stomach flu and haven’t eaten anything out of the ordinary.


A sharp pain and numbness in the chest, shoulder, and arm is an indicator of heart attack, but many people don’t experience heart attack pain this way at all. Instead, they may feel pain in the neck or shoulder area, or it may feel like it’s running along the jaw and up by the ear. Some women specifically report feeling the pain between their shoulder blades.


A Telltale Sign

A telltale sign: The pain comes and goes, rather than persisting unrelieved, as a pulled muscle would. This can make the pain both easy to overlook and difficult to pinpoint. You may notice pain in your neck one day, none the next day, then after that it might have moved to your ear and jaw. If you notice pain that seems to move or radiate upwards and out, this is important to bring to your doctor’s attention.


Inflammation: The Hidden Time Bomb Within You

A sense of crushing fatigue that lasts for several days is another sign of heart trouble that’s all too often overlooked or explained away. Women, in particular, often look back after a heart attack and mention this symptom. More than 70 percent of women in last year’s NIH study, for example, reported extreme fatigue in the weeks or months prior to their heart attack.  The key here is that the fatigue is unusually strong — not the kind of tiredness you can power through but the kind that lays you flat out in bed. If you’re normally a fairly energetic person and suddenly feel sidelined by fatigue, a call to your doctor is in order.


Catching your breath

When your heart isn’t getting enough blood, it also isn’t getting enough oxygen. And when there’s not enough oxygen circulating in your blood, the result is feeling unable to draw a deep, satisfying breath — the same feeling you get when you’re at high elevation. Additional symptoms can be light-headedness and dizziness. But sadly, people don’t attribute this symptom to heart disease, because they associate breathing with the lungs, not the heart.

In last year’s NIH study, more than 40 percent of women heart attack victims remembered experiencing this symptom. A common description of the feeling: “I couldn’t catch my breath while walking up the driveway.”

When the heart muscle isn’t functioning properly, waste products aren’t carried away from tissues by the blood, and the result can be edema or swelling caused by fluid retention. Edema usually starts in the feet, ankles, and legs because they’re furthest from the heart, where circulation is poorer. In addition, when tissues don’t get enough blood, it can lead to a painful condition called ischemia. Bring swelling and pain to the attention of your doctor.



This is an odd one doctors can’t yet explain in that those who’ve had heart attacks often remember experiencing a sudden, unexplained inability to fall asleep or stay asleep during the month or weeks before their heart attack. (Note: If you already experience insomnia regularly, this symptom can be hard to distinguish.)   Patients often report the feeling as one of being “keyed up” and wound tight; they remember lying in bed with racing thoughts and sometimes a racing heart. In the National Institutes of Health report, many of the women surveyed reported feeling a sense of “impending doom,” as if a disaster were about to occur. If you don’t normally have trouble sleeping and begin to experience acute insomnia and anxiety for unexplained reasons, speak with your doctor.


Flu like symptoms

Clammy, sweaty skin, along with feeling light-headed, fatigued, and weak, leads some people to believe they’re coming down with the flu when, in fact, they’re having a heart attack.  Even the feeling of heaviness or pressure in the chest which is typical of some people’s experience in a heart attack may be confused with having a chest cold or the flu.  If you experience severe flu-like symptoms that don’t quite add up to the flu (no high temperature, for example), call your doctor or advice nurse to talk it over.  Watch out also for persistent wheezing or chronic coughing that doesn’t resolve itself; that can be a sign of heart disease, experts say. Patients sometimes attribute these symptoms to a cold or flu, asthma, or lung disease when what’s happening is that poor circulation is causing fluid to accumulate in the lungs.


Rapid & Irregular Pulse

One little-known symptom that sometimes predates a heart attack is known as ventricular tachycardia, more commonly described as rapid and irregular pulse and heart rate.  During these episodes, which come on suddenly, you feel as if your heart is beating very fast and hard, like you just ran up a hill except you didn’t.  “I’d look down and I could actually see my heart pounding,” one person recalled.  It can last just a few seconds or longer; if longer, you may also notice dizziness and weakness.   Some patients confuse these episodes with panic attacks.


Older Adults

Heart attacks in older adults (especially those in their 80s and beyond, or in those who have dementia or multiple health conditions), can mimic many other conditions.  But an overall theme heard from those whose loved ones suffered heart attacks is that in the days leading up to and after a cardiac event, they “just didn’t seem like themselves.”


Rule of Thumb

A good rule of thumb, experts say, is to watch for clusters of symptoms that come on all at once and aren’t typical of your normal experience. For example, a normally alert, energetic person suddenly begins to have muddled thinking, memory loss, deep fatigue, and a sense of being “out of it.” The underlying cause could be something as simple as a urinary tract infection, but it could also be a heart attack. If your body is doing unusual things and you just don’t feel “right,” don’t wait. See a doctor and ask for a thorough work-up.  And if you have any risk factors for cardiac disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, or family history of heart disease, make sure the doctor knows about those issues, too.  Check out the website below for more information on heart attack symptoms:

And last but not least I like to leave you with a Valentine’s Day poem that I found on the Internet:

Hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!


Want to receive more healthy living tips then sign on to Reliv’s free Science & Health Today Newsletter on my website







Installation Musts for Below Grade Bathroom Fixtures – A Reprint from Inman News

This is important information when installing bathroom fixtures bel0w-grade (in the basement) – this comes from Inman News ( author Paul Bianchina

Q: We need to install  a toilet and sink just below grade going into a septic system for my elderly  parents. Do we need an ejector-type toilet? Also is there a specific make/brand  that we should be looking at? Does someone also make an ejector sink or is  there a way to connect it to the toilet? –Susan M.


A: For the type of installation you describe, where both the  toilet and the sink are below grade, you actually need a sewage ejector pump.  With this type of installation, all of the liquid and solid waste from all of  the below-grade fixtures flows into a holding tank.


When the waste reaches a  certain level, a float mechanism triggers a pump, which pumps the waste up to  the home’s main sewer line. With this type of arrangement, you can also install  other fixtures below grade, such as a shower, bathtub or washing machine.


A complete installation includes the holding tank, which is  a noncorrosive tank that’s usually around 30 gallons of capacity; the pump and  float; a waste line that’s connected to the home’s sewer line; and a vent line  that’s connected to the home’s plumbing vent system. A grounded electrical  connection is also required for the pump.


If you’re not familiar with this type of installation,  you’ll want to have it done by a licensed plumber who’s experienced with  remodeling work. You’ll also need to check with your local building department  to see what plumbing and electrical permits will be required for the  installation.


Q: We recently  purchased a 7-year-old brick home with a crawl space. The inspector said we  need to get a vapor barrier installed in the crawl space to prevent mold. We  haven’t moved in completely yet but do stay at the house for four to eight days  a month.


During our last stay  we noticed that it took a long time to get hot water to the kitchen faucet.  It’s about 30-35 feet from the water heater. I haven’t been in the crawl space  but I’m wondering whether the floor is insulated. What would you recommend we  do? –Dave H.


A: You actually have three different issues here, so let’s  take them separately, along with my recommendations.


The vapor barrier in the crawl space is used to prevent  moisture from the soil from migrating up into the crawl space and, as the  inspector suggests, potentially causing mold problems. It can also cause  problems on the wood framing, and other issues in the crawl space. The vapor  barrier should be 6-mil black plastic sheeting, laid directly on the  dirt.


Crawl-space vapor barriers have been code for quite some  time, so it’s surprising that your 7-year-old house doesn’t have one. My  recommendation: Have a vapor barrier installed as soon as possible.


Issue No. 2 is the floor insulation. Because you had a home  inspection, the inspector would have noted the presence — or lack thereof —  of floor insulation in his report. A crawl space definitely needs a vapor  barrier if it has floor insulation, so unless the vapor barrier was removed for  some reason, you probably don’t have an insulated floor.


My recommendation: Floor insulation definitely helps with  heat loss, so it will keep your home more comfortable and keep your energy  bills down. If the floor isn’t insulated, I’d certainly suggest that you have  that done.


While floor insulation can help with hot water delivery by  keeping water pipes from losing heat, that’s not going to be the cause of your  delay in getting hot water to rooms that are some distance away from the tank.


My recommendation: Drain and flush the tank to be sure it’s  clean and operating properly. Check the thermostats to be sure they’re set  properly. Insulate all the water pipes under the house. Consider having a  plumber install a recirculating pump, which will make a big difference in how  fast hot water makes it to the back of the house.


Q: We live in a 2  1/2-story home with a finished attic. We recently had it insulated. I just  found out that [the insulators] didn’t insulate the attic floor, which I  thought they were supposed to have done. My husband says they shouldn’t, that  it needs to be “open.” Who’s right? –Kris C.


A: Insulation is used primarily to slow down the movement of  heat between heated spaces and unheated spaces, such as between the inside of  the house and the outside, or between a living space and an unheated attic.


Because both your main house and the attic above it are heated living spaces,  from an energy standpoint there is no reason to insulate the floor between the  two spaces. You could, however, insulate it if you wanted to reduce transmitted  noise from that upper room.


Remodeling and repair  questions? Email Paul at All product reviews are based on the author’s actual testing of free review samples provided by the manufacturers.

Clean Homes Sell Faster

Welcome back to our guest blogger Kevin Coates from Servpro in Billerica.  Have you ever visited homes for sale and found homes that you just wanted to leave right after you got into the front door.  Well he is why

Clean Homes Sell Faster”

It is a fact:  A clean, fresh smelling home sells faster. Unfortunately, not all homes are maintained in the same way. Nearly all realtors are faced, at some point, with a difficult listing to show. There are reasons realtors encourage clients to keep homes in tip top condition.

  • Increased market value
  • Shortened list to sale conversion times.
  • Enhanced reputation for quality listings and quick sales.

The link below is from the official site of national realtor association. This will help with tips of what should be done prior to your home entering the market.

Kevin Coates

Servpro Billerica/Tewksbury


Buyers Denied Loan, But Still Lose Deposit – A Reprint

The following is a reprint of James Haroutunian’s column that appeared in the Lowell Sun on February 11, 2012

A fellow real-estate lawyer who write the brings attention to a recent appeals-court case that cost a couple their $31,000 deposit.  This case highlights the importance of proper contingency language in purchase-and-sale contracts.

These unfortunate buyers started off like everyone else.  Armed with a pre-approval letter, the buyers’ P&S contract contained a standard mortgage contingency.  It offered a refund of the deposit if the buyers were unable to get a mortgage loan.  A deadline was set and the buyers worked diligently with their lender to get a loan commitment.

These buyers were unique because they did not intend to sell their current home – essentially buying a second home.  When the lender analyzed the buyers debt-to-income ratios, it was determined they could not afford to carry both mortgage payments.

As a result, the lender required the buyers to “list their home for sale.”  When the buyers refused, the lender denied the loan.  Timely notice of the denial was provided, but the sellers refused to release the deposit.  The court determined the buyer’s refusal to list their current home for sale was unreasonable, and in violation of the “prevailing terms and conditions” portion of the mortgage-contingency clause.

Here the court found the lender’s condition reasonable, and the buyers’ refusal to list their home for sale unreasonable.  Thus the buyers LOST their $31,000 deposit.

Sadly, if the issue were addressed upfront, simple language could have been added.  Stating that financing would not be conditional on the buyers’ listing or selling their current home may have lowered the “prevailing conditions” standard enough to save the buyers’ deposit

Attorney James Haroutunian practices real-estate law, estate planning and probate at 630 Boston Road, Billerica.  He invites questions at or by phone at 978-671-0711.  His blog is found at


Six Worst Home Fixes for the Money – A Reprint

The following is a reprint from  It reminds us that you should consider how far you should go when fixing up, remodeling your home.  Is the cost really recoupable? 

It’s the magic phrase uttered by almost anyone who’s ever considered the cost  of home remodeling: “We’ll get it back when we sell.”

Unless you keep those projects practical, though, you might just be kidding  yourself.

For example:

  • Steel front door: Good.
  • Master suite addition costing more than the average American home:  Bad.

Every year, Remodeling magazine looks at the hottest home upgrades and  renovations and calculates just how much owners get back with they sell.

Upkeep is more popular than upgrades these days, says Sal Alfano, editorial  director for Remodeling. These are the projects that often recoup the biggest  slice of expenses at resale. But prices and returns do vary regionally, he  says.

Ever wonder what brings the lowest return when you plant that “for sale”  sign? Think high-dollar, high-end and highly personalized add-ons that make you  drool. Like a totally tricked-out garage built from the ground up. Or a super  luxe master suite addition. Or the home office redo designed just for you.

Here are the six improvements that rank dead last nationally  when it comes to getting those renovation dollars back at resale.

Want to get an idea what today’s office-away-from-the-office looks like? Walk  into Starbucks.

These days, a home office consists of a multiple-choice combination of  wireless laptops, smartphones, PDAs and touch-screen tablets. And that worker  bee might be toiling anywhere from a home patio or a favorite restaurant to a  park bench.

The standard home office renovation, meanwhile — complete with plenty of  built-in storage and high-tech wiring — is this year’s biggest loser in the  resale value sweepstakes. Nationally, homeowners spent an average of $28,888 and  can expect to recoup about 45.8 percent at resale, according to the report.

Return on investment doesn’t reflect your enjoyment of the space, Alfano  says.

He offers two tips for home-office remodelers when they sell. First, opt for  something that can be easily converted back into a bedroom or den for (or by)  the next buyer.

Second, when you’re selling, call it a study, den or hobby  room. “There’s lots of call for multipurpose space. Don’t lock yourself into  that one use,” Alfano says. Don’t use words that invoke images of actual work.  Or the office.

You see a backup generator and imagine all of the comforts no matter what the  weather.

But potential buyers hailing from outside your local area may not share that  vision. (And a handful of those who do might have watched too many zombie  movies.)

On average, when homeowners have a heavy-duty backup power generator  installed, they spend about $14,718, according to the report. Going with a  slightly less expensive model or having a less complicated installation could  cut the costs significantly, Alfano says.

Average amount of the price recovered at resale time: 48.5  percent.

Real estate agents will tell you that potential buyers want square footage,  pristine condition and lots of light. So a brand-new room that has the word  “sun” in it, it has to be great for resale value, right?

Not necessarily.

Your first clue: The word “addition” — which means expanding the footprint  of your home — indicates that this is not a renovation for the faint of heart  (or wallet). “It’s one of the more expensive projects,” Alfano says.

While it seems simple enough, the national average for a sunroom addition is  $75,224, according to the report. Homeowners can expect to recoup about 48.6  percent when they sell.

That doesn’t mean that adding a sunroom is always a bad move.

If your home needs another common area, a sunroom could be the  answer, says Katie Severance, co-author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to  Selling Your Home.” An addition is best considered in the context of the whole  home, she says. “The doctor has to treat the whole patient. You have to look at  the house and say ‘What’s out of balance?'”

Who doesn’t want to wake up in a five-star-hotel-quality suite with an  attached spa bathroom and a kitchenette that affords you coffee and pastries  before facing the world?

Once you see the price tag, it won’t just be the coffee keeping you up at  night.

For a super-deluxe master suite addition — which adds square footage and  uses only top-dollar materials — the average cost is about $232,062, according  to the report.

That’s 460 nights at a posh resort with enough left over to raid the  minibar.

In years past, this project was “sort of a trend in vacation homes” that  migrated to primary dwellings, Alfano says. Sellers can expect to recover about  52.7 percent at resale.

Your buyer can purchase a newer house with the same features as part of the  original floor plan that “probably lays out better anyway,” says Loren Keim,  author of “How to Sell Your Home in Any Market.”

So while the next buyer may appreciate your luxury  accommodations (which could even tip their decision in your home’s favor),  chances are they won’t want to pay the full tab for your remodel

Unless you’re a hermit who never entertains, you’ve probably wished for an  extra bathroom now and then.

But bathroom additions require serious coin. For a moderately outfitted  addition with synthetic stone or plastic laminate surfaces, figure parting with  about $21,695, according to the Remodeling report. Go upscale, with finishes  like premium marble or fine tile, and you can easily spend in the neighborhood  of $40,710.

Either way, you get about the same return: 53 cents on the dollar. “In the  buyer’s mind, the additional bathroom isn’t worth that additional $20,000 to  $40,000,” Keim says.

Investigate a less-expensive way to get the same result without  flushing quite as much cash. While additions usually cost more, pros might be  able to reconfigure your existing space to add a bathroom for less, Alfano  says.

Instead of cleaning out the garage, how much would you pay to have a new one  built from scratch?

This time, it would have all the organizational built-ins, and a durable,  easy-to-clean floor to ensure it would never be messy again. And windows for  natural light.

Oh yeah, and you could store a couple of cars in there, too.

The price tag for a top-of-the-line detached two-car with all the trimmings  is about $90,053, according to the report. You can expect to recover about 53.6  percent of that when you sell.

“This one is completely decked out on the inside,” says Alfano. “It’s a dream  garage.”

And that’s likely some of the problem with recovering the value  at resale. Says Keim, “You’ve got a very small target audience out there that  wants an upscale garage.”

Remember that resale is what the new buyer is willing to pay.  Bottom line is that while they may like these items, do they find them important enough to pay extra for them. 

%d bloggers like this: