Archive for the ‘Billerica MA’ Category

Billerica Real Estate’s Unlikely New Player: Amazon.com

Amazon has invaded the realm of real estate—but you couldn’t say it’s happening in a big way.

It’s happening in a tiny way.

Last week the improbable news arrived that the web’s 400-pound gorilla had made its first foray into the realm of real estate. Since Billerica real estate (like all real estate) is by definition local, its very nature would seem to preclude the buying and selling of homes as a mail order enterprise. But since Amazon.com has succeeded in other industries where failure had been assumed (high-end fashion, for instance), could local Billerica real estate soon be monopolized by a tsunami of Amazon Prime home sales? At least it warranted some looking into!

It turned out that Billerica real estate was not likely to be overcome anytime soon. The Amazon listings that showed up are hard to find, and not likely to tempt many Billerica home shoppers. The few listings were only searchable when you entered “tiny homes”—and the few homes being offered were sandwiched in between how-to books about designing and building very small cabins.

(Here, a note for Billerica residents who aren’t familiar with the “tiny homes” phenomenon…they are what the name says: structures smaller than 400 square feet…although some can be as microscopic as 80 square feet, most are in the 300-350 range).

You may not find too many tiny homes in Billerica, but the movement is nation-wide. And the concept is not as far-fetched as it might seem. Anyone who has taken weeks-long vacations in campers or lived for any stretch of time on a pleasure boat knows that you can reduce your living space to a slender minimum if you plan carefully.

Back to Amazon. The lead-off listing was a pre-fab tiny home converted from a shipping container. Like any good Billerica real estate listing, the details pointed out key selling points (in this case, the shipping container was new). Price was a thrifty $36,000, which would be even more thrifty if the “$0.00 estimated tax” turns out to be accurate. The customer reviews were mixed, with one in particular naming a possible sticking point: meeting Massachusetts and Billerica building codes. Additionally, Amazon Prime members who revel in their free delivery perk were bound to be disappointed: the tiny home wasn’t eligible (they’d have to pony up another $3,754 in shipping fees).

If your own Billerica home buying or selling requirements are greater than the tiny home square footage limit, I’m here to lend a hand. Call me!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

Joan Parcewski Full Picture 102017Laer Realty Partners

 

9 Home Hacks to Ease Daily Billerica Homeowner Hassles

You don’t have to be holding a showing or Billerica open house to appreciate time-saving maintenance and organizational tips. Nowadays, many of these are being called “home hacks”—but no matter what you call them, when you find yourself repeatedly dealing with recurring cleaning and household organizational problems, simple shortcuts are what is called for.

Without further ado, here are 9 home hacks for Billerica householders. I’ve noted them as briefly as possible so you can quickly spot familiar situations in your own household:

  1. Oil-stained garage floor? Some recommend sprinkling with cat litter—but it can get messy. Try Coca-Cola first!
  2. Don’t throw out those plastic clips that keep bread bags closed—label them with the names of the electronic devices plugged into the media center’s power strip. They’ll hang perfectly on the cords—and let you know which is which without unplugging (and triggering a date/time reset).
  3. When you are doing all the bedrooms at once for a showing or open house, you’ll be glad if you’ve kept the separate sheet sets in their matching pillowcases.
  4. Curtain rod hack ONE: Suspend a curtain rod from ceiling hooks near the washer/dryer. All you need is a bunch of coat hangers—and see how handily they organize the clean shirts!
  5. Curtain rod hack TWO: Too much cleaning stuff jammed together under the kitchen sink? Install another curtain rod near the top, and hang all the spray-nozzle-type bottles from it. Now there’s plenty of room for all the rest of the stuff below.
  6. Stubborn water spots on shower doors and mirrors? Use dryer sheets.
  7. If you’ve stashed family board games in storage containers, label them. It’s easy to forget how family board and card games can make family gatherings—but without labels, all those old games are out of sight and out of mind.
  8. Cleaning Billerica properties that have lots of stainless steel appliances can be frustrating unless you’ve heard about using rubbing alcohol with a microfiber cloth. Always wipe with the grain.
  9. Tie a baggy with vinegar around a clogged shower head and leave it overnight— sometimes this actually works!)

These are nine of the “home hacks” that can save Billerica householders time and frustration. Saving my Billerica real estate clients both is part of my job description!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty PartnersJoan Parcewski Full Picture 102017

Billerica House Design Change is Really a Marketing Insight

There’s news in the world of house design—for a change!

Those who keep in touch with the house design innovations that Billerica buyers are currently favoring know one thing is for certain: they don’t change overnight. True innovations are rare.

Fads occasionally come and go (remember “industrial décor” and barn door sliders?)—but by definition, fads don’t wind up making much of a dent in how most Billerica homes are built or remodeled. That’s a good thing: overexuberant style-chasing can be expensive to correct once a clever style has come and gone.

I bring this up because it looks as if there are a couple of interconnected house design ideas that look like they might be durable—and if so, Billerica home buyers and sellers will want to be aware of them.

First is a house design feature that’s gradually been working its way up in popularity: the ground floor master bedroom. Last week, The Wall Street Journal ran an article that pointed to the demographics that make this a house design winner. They call it “main-floor master bedroom”—but whatever you call it, the logic is irrefutable. As the number of America’s seniors grows, the practicality of easy access grows with it, gradually shifting from convenience to necessity.

The associated and more consequential design news is summed up in one word: flex. A flex room or area is one that has no designated purpose, but which can be configured and later re-configured to accommodate changing needs and lifestyles. Flex rooms are usually sited off the entry hall, near the main living space, generally close to a bathroom (“so they can easily morph into bedrooms”). They have ample electric wiring so they can become home offices or media centers. Or anything else, not yet anticipated.

Flex rooms used to be called “bonus rooms”—but that might be selling the innovative element short. To me, the term “bonus room” has always seemed like a luxury afterthought; a non-necessity. “Flex room” sounds active and dynamic—and valuable. In fact, the essence of the idea may be more of a marketing insight than design innovation. Whichever it is, it’s something Billerica sellers can appreciate for its practicality: potential buyers will tend to project their own needs into the space. As a house planner put it to the Journal, “When you name it ‘dining room,’ buyers will never get that out of their mind.”

In a wider sense, the “flex” idea is a reflection of 21st-century reality. At this point, we all understand that change is the most predictable element of our future. Having built-in flexibility in a home’s design is one way to assure that it stays in style—and also a way to ensure its lasting resale value.

Maximizing that is my specialty—so be sure to keep my number handy!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Joan Parcewski Full Picture 102017Laer Realty Partners

Billerica Listing Photos Set the Stage for the Sale

Some key preparations for the marketing of any Billerica home actually start well before the first showing or open house: they take place in the hours before the Billerica listing photos are taken. Those Billerica listing photos will become the definitive beauty shots—the equivalent of the glamorous depictions that grace product packaging.

Manufacturers know very well the import of how their product looks on the carton, jar or bag. It’s why top commercial photographers rely on “product stylists” (they’re the experts who sort through 100 bags of potato chips to come up with the two or three that will photograph perfectly).

Billerica listing photos no longer have anything to do with 20th-century cameras or film. But it’s not just the move to digital that’s responsible for creating a higher quality Billerica listing photos. To guarantee you maximize the quality of your own Billerica home’s listing photos, it remains a team effort…and you’re on the team. Four elements are called for:

  1. Equipment. Even now, the technology behind photo equipment is advancing rapidly. What used to require compliments of hot lamps, stands, and even a reflector or two can now be accomplished with a single travel case of lightweight equipment. Still vital: the “eye” of the knowledgeable pro behind the lens.
  2. Patience. For the critical exterior shot, Mother Nature controls most of the timing. The photographers creating the best Billerica listing photos don’t just take weather into account—they factor in the house’s orientation and the time of day that will show it to its best advantage, and plan accordingly.
  3. Homeowner prep. The NAR®’s real estate photo tutorial emphasizes how important homeowners can be on the big day because “little things can make—or break—listing photos.” Examples are paying special attention to blinds, bedspreads and shower curtains (making sure they are smooth)—as well as removing any and all unnecessary knick-knacks.
  4. The digital finale. It used to be that fine photo correcting was a time-consuming art practiced mainly in the production studios of national publications. That’s no longer the case. Digital images can be quickly refined via ubiquitous photo processing software that makes retouching and image enhancing part of the professional’s everyday bag of tricks.

Starting out with dynamic listing photos is important—as are the many steps to follow. When it’s your time to list, I hope you’ll allow me to demonstrate the personal care that makes selling your Billerica home a low-stress experience!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

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Thoughts as Billerica’s Summertime Ends…

Friday is the official last day of Billerica’s 2017 summer, but for most of us, the season has been feeling a lot more like fall ever since Labor Day. It isn’t the weather so much as the psychological factor. Things like the passing of that last summertime three-day weekend and watching Billerica’s seasonal businesses post hour change signs. As the school busses appear every morning, you also don’t have to have kids in school to register what all the activity signals: Billerica’s summer is over.

Pinterest, the internet’s foremost collecting place for everyone’s pictures of everything has scores of pages of photos and drawings with Last Days of Summer themes. Some of them do extract a sigh or two. It may have been decades since you last experienced a cookout with friends as the summer sun sets, or watched a little one discovering that the cold tidewater will get your toes if you don’t back away in time—but the thought that the chance to revisit such moments has slipped away till next year is a sigh-producer for most.

The Pinterest collections had lots of swimming pool and beach pictures (including many dogs-in-swimming-pools, for some reason), as well as barbecue grills and drinks with limes in them. They did a good job of making you wish Billerica’s summer could last just a little bit longer…

On the bright side, since they were also heavy with ice cream and popsicle imagery, it prompted the realization that some Billerica summer attractions won’t be disappearing at all! There’s no law that says Billerica’s autumn won’t include an ice cream cone or two. Besides, it’s a fact that the summertime pastime of racing to get to the bottom of the cone before it melts all over the place is easier to win as the weather gets colder. Another plus is how, before long, autumnal treats like pumpkin-flavored ice cream are going to show up again.

With Billerica’s official Last Day of Summer coming on Friday, those whose favorite season arrives with the fall have only the weekend before it’s here. It will be many months before fall fanciers will have to resort to Pinterest to relive the Last Days of Autumn collections. They will undoubtedly find lots of pictures of high school football games, trees ablaze with orange-gold color, turkeys—but let’s not jump the gun; all that is yet to come!

In the meantime, season in and season out, call me whenever Billerica real estate matters need to be attended to!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

Laer Realty Partners     Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

 

Hurricane News Overshadows All but One Bright Spot

Last weekend’s regular Massachusetts news should have been promoting all the usual upbeat feature stories about the onset of football season, the start of a brand new school year, the finals of tennis’ last grand slam tournament and the like—but Billerica readers would have gotten eye strain trying to find any of them. Instead, the dark clouds brought by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey cast dense shadows across the region and the nation’s news. It was certain, too, that even after the terror of their actual passages had subsided, the fallout would continue to reverberate—expensively—for a very long time.

What was covered was how the prayers of millions not directly affected were being answered by many thousands of Good Samaritan volunteers. That uplifting story was joined by another, too; a piece of hurricane-related real estate news. Too bad it was all but drowned out by the fury of the storms and their tragic aftermaths.

Nonetheless, for Harvey-stricken Houston area homeowners with home loans backed by FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, the announcement came that evictions and foreclosures would be suspended immediately. Added: the same government-backed entities would forego demands for monthly payments for at least 90 days (along with hints that “in some cases” that relief might be extended for up to a year).

As for those just beginning the climb out from Hurricane Irma’s destruction, I think it would be all but inconceivable that the same relief won’t be swiftly forthcoming for those homeowners—even if the size and cost of that will eclipse the cost of defraying the Harvey-affected loans. The small print has it that interest will continue to accrue—but Billerica onlookers will probably agree that the immediate granting of this relief is more than welcome at this juncture.

It’s really too soon to be able to concentrate on what happens in the months and years to come­—but the future of the American story is entirely predictable. This year we may have lost focus on traditional late summer sports, but in the championship ring of our real world and our real communities, we don’t suffer knockdowns easily. In U.S. history, there are no true KOs; there won’t be this time, either. The communities Americans rebuild will be better than ever!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners           http://www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com    cell 978-376-3978

 

Laer Realty Partners     Joan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

 

Top 4 Post-Labor Day House Hunting Changes

A while back, Forbes noted what they called “The Four Ways the Real Estate Market Changes” after Labor Day. The article recognized a truism that holds for most parts of Massachusetts—namely, that the period between Labor Day and Thanksgiving is what most of us think of as “fall.” It went on to describe four ways the change of seasons alters the house hunting landscape.

Although I may not agree entirely with their broad brush proposition that a great number of house hunters throw in the towel after Labor Day, the four market changes described are often true enough.

  1. More of a buyer’s market. Buyers who have held off through the prime selling seasons are more apt to find sellers who are more open to negotiation.
  2. Action increases for vacation homes. This is prime time for Billerica home shoppers whose eyes are on vacation homes. By purchasing in the fall, “you can have it bought and furnished by spring.”
  3. Price dips. House hunters find that asking prices, like the autumn leaves, fall. Forbes may have simply been unable to resist the simile, but in many cases, it’s true!
  4. Open-ended house hunting. Time pressures (like having to be moved in by the first day of school) will have vanished by Labor Day, so many Billerica house hunters tend to adopt a more leisurely house hunting attitude. There may also be something about crisp autumn days (and they’ll be here soon enough) that helps contribute to a more relaxed atmosphere—at least until the Holidays loom!

Every Billerica house hunter has specific individual goals and expectations—and of course, the same is true for sellers, as well. But it does seem to be true that post-Labor Day Billerica listings tend to include an uptick in price reductions—as well as some withdrawals that, as Forbes might have it, “will sprout anew” come springtime.

If your busy summer included activities and travel that kept you fully occupied, now may be an opportune time to inaugurate your own Billerica  house hunting venture. If so, do give me a call!

Joan Parcewski, Realtor & Notary

LAER Realty Partners        www.JoanParcewski.LAERRealty.com

JParcewski@LAERRealty.com   c  978-376-3978

Laer Realty PartnersJoan_Parcewski (1 of 1)

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