Archive for the ‘LAER Realty Partners’ Category

Forewarned is Forearmed: Top 6 Investment Property Repairs

When you first look into whether an investment property in Bedford would be a suitable addition to your own portfolio, the positives leap out. Bedford investment properties can throw off positive cash flow even as they appreciate in long-term value. What’s not to like? But there is one area that may hover as a wildcard: the maintenance issue.

Because tenants are part of the picture, Bedford investment properties undergo varying amounts of wear and tear, so keeping them in top shape does require at least some degree of attention. Veteran landlords learn how to handle maintenance and repairs with a minimum of turmoil—sometimes by simply farming them out to professional property managers. In that, we are fortunate—Bedford has some great ones!

However you choose to address the issue, it’s useful to know which repairs investment property owners say are most frequently needed. Here are six leaders:

  1. Leaks. Under sinks, under windows and in the ceiling, leaks require the swiftest action to forestall expensive repercussions. Even the smallest leaks can result in mold growth, so any hint of water where it doesn’t belong rates immediate attention.
  2. Appliances. They have the greatest number of working parts, so it’s no surprise that they wind up having the greatest number of non-working parts. Repairmen are whispering that current models in almost all brands are not holding up as well as they used to…so when replacements are necessary, consider that higher-quality models may be worth the initial expense.
  3. Water heater. Tenants deserve hot water, so when it peters out, having the attention of a veteran plumber can be the difference between a repair (often all that’s needed) or a more expensive replacement.
  4. Rodents and bugs. Sealing up holes is the first line of defense for discouraging all manner of creepy-crawlies. If they show up anyway, Bedford pest control experts can usually rid infestations for at most a few hundred dollars.
  5. Furnace. If the heat goes out during cold spells, unless it’s only a pilot light going out, it can quickly become an emergency situation. You’ll want to have the emergency phone number for one of Bedford’s experienced furnace repairmen at the ready.
  6. Running toilet. We’re all familiar with the sound of a toilet that won’t shut up. It’s usually (in fact, virtually always) due to a “flapper” that doesn’t quite seat properly. These are inexpensive parts that are easily replaced—but there are also a hundred different varieties. All the expertise that’s required to fix this common tenant complaint can be found in YouTube videos demonstrating the various 10-minutes solutions.

Some terrific Bedford investment property possibilities are among this fall’s listings. Call me to explore them!

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 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

 

Rx for Bedford Real Estate Inspection Jitters

As worrisome physical symptoms go, house inspection jitters should not be worrisome in the least. Neither Bedford home buyers or their counterparts (Bedford home sellers) need be troubled if they find themselves awaiting the house inspector with mounting anxiety: these are perfectly normal symptoms. My advice echoes HGTV’s prescription for a “Drama-Free Real Estate Rx”—in their words, “Don’t Freak Out.”

The utter normalcy for pre-inspection jitters is indisputable—as is their cause. If you are the seller, you can be perfectly satisfied that you have done everything possible to ensure that your Bedford home is in tip-top shape, and yet be aware that some totally unknown malady (that only a sharp-eyed house inspector could ever uncover) might be lurking. If you are the buyer, you’ve found the house you’ve been searching for, but know that all the plans you’ve set into motion could be derailed by some unanticipated dire structural finding.

With so much on the line, the house inspection is usually viewed as the last possible monkey wrench that could be thrown into the works of the deal. Jitters are appropriate.

The prescription for real estate inspection jitters is to realize that although deal-killing inspections are certainly possible, they aren’t all that likely. The reason is that almost any set of negative findings can be dealt with rationally: in terms of dollars and cents. Your Bedford real estate agent (hopefully me!) is expert at doing away with post-inspection jitters. If the problems are so minor that they don’t bother the buyer, the jitters disappear all by themselves.

If more major items are in play, contractor bids can be gathered and compared, and the probable costs factored into a renegotiation which results in a deal that seems fair to all. The most frequent result is the calm knowledge that the house inspection jitters were quickly put to rest via a mature and rational solution: freak-out not warranted.

Helping buyers and sellers appraise the results of Bedford real estate inspections is only one part of how I can help you when it comes to the very important project of buying or selling Bedford properties. I hope you’ll consider giving me a call!

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

A Century of NAR® First House Buyers Guidance…and a Quiz!

My organization—the National Association of Realtors®—offers a wide range of guidance for Burlington families who have decided it’s time to land their first house. With more than a century’s worth of experience, you’d expect nothing less.

Last week I happened across an article the NAR had distilled that looked like a must-read for anyone who is just starting out on the path to buying their first Burlington house. Its title was “8 Critical Things to Do Before Buying a Home”—but it could just as well have been “8 Critical Things to Do Before Buying Your First Burlington House.” Each of the eight was apt—and important to mull over—but it’s the kind of list that’s awfully easy to read without giving much thought to the individual items.

The challenge was to come up with an interesting way to share the ideas with you. The article put the “8 critical things” in order—so I decided to make a game out of them: a quiz.

See if you can guess what was the order—from first to last—that the NAR presented them in. I don’t know that the order I’d choose would match theirs exactly …but see how well yours does:

-A. Amass a down payment

-B. Go mortgage shopping

-C. Ponder the future (*I love this one: wait till you see where the NAR put it!)

-D. Crunch your numbers

-E. Know your credit score

-F. Get educated

-G. Ballpark your closing costs

-H. Interview at least three real estate agents

 

The NAR’s answers are at the bottom, but I have a minor addition for Burlington first house buyers: if you’re just getting started, you can get a head start right now by giving me a call. There’s never an obligation, but I’m always happy to discuss where you are and the options you might already have. In any case, later—when it comes to action H.—you’ll definitely have a head start!

Answer:

D, E, A, F, H, B, C

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

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

Bedford “Pet-Friendly” Homes: It All Begins with Petscaping!

“Pet-Friendly” is a term that used to be confined to the Bedford Homes for Rent ads and a few open-minded hotel chains. Given the 84+ million American households which now include pets as family members, Bedford homeowners who plan on listing their property anytime soon might include those animal census numbers in their thinking.

There may not yet be an official “Pet-Friendly Home” seal with stringent qualifying requirements, but it might not be such a bad idea. What research there is indicates that most prospective home buyers don’t at first concentrate on their animals’ needs—yet when you add the 36% of dog-owning households to the 30% of cat owners, there’s a high probability that more than a few of potential buyers will be sizing up your property with Fido or Fluffball in mind.

The qualities that make your Bedford home pet-friendly or not begin with landscaping. The ASPCA considers “petscaping” a high priority, so well-maintained traditional or invisible fencing is a good place to start. If you have succeeded in gardening without pesticides, pointing out its organic character will be another plus.

The ASPCA also offers an online database of toxic and non-toxic plants. If your pet-friendly home includes a thoroughly pet-safe yard, it will be worth noting in marketing materials.

Pet-friendly homes are now including some technological advances, too.  In addition to various automatic self-replenishing water bowl schemes, there are a variety of pet doors that only open for animals wearing a properly coded transmitter collar.

It’s only fair to mention that the pet-friendly concept can be taken to extremes. Open air cat walks with climbing steps and cat doors into every room might appeal to kitty fanciers, but even they might find the weirdness factor a negative. Along those lines is a proposed Pet-Friendly House Project. Its Gofundme page proposes a “dogs room” complete with 12-inch high bed, open-sided toy closet (the illustrations show a LOT of toys), pet-safe flooring, and a big-screen TV “for watching their favorite characters.” The Pet-Friendly House’s mudroom has a walk-in doggie shower which, come to think of it, is not a bad idea.

When the time nears to list your own Bedford home, I hope you’ll give me a call to discuss a dynamic, effective marketing plan—pet-friendly or not!

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

%d bloggers like this: