Blog :: 01-2014

Welcome to our blog! Here you will find posts about can't miss properties, local events, and more! Here at Maple and Main Realty we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the Northampton area. Feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us

Time to Sell?

 

It is cold out there!  But, believe it or not, we at Maple and Main Realty are gearing up for the spring market!  Does this mean that the rest of the winter will be mild and we will have a long, balmy spring?  No, unfortunately it doesn't.  But it does mean that if you are thinking of selling your home, now is a good time to reach out to your realtor to get the ball rolling.

Your sellers agent will be able to serve many important roles for you in the process of selling your home.  To begin with, he or she will start with a comparable market analysis.  This will enable you to understand how they came to their opinion of market value for your home.  With this information, you can decide together whether to market your home to sell quickly, or whether you want to try for a bit more money at the risk of having your home take longer to sell.

Your agent will assist you in understanding what might do to ready your home to sell.  Whether you need to freshen the paint, declutter the surfaces, remove old carpeting, etc.  Your agent will give you his or her opinion about how to make your house shine (without breaking the bank, hopefully!).

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Once you have decided on pricing, and taken the necessary steps to ready your house to list, your agent will prepare the listing, and get started on the marketing of your home!  From taking beautiful photos for online marketing, to creating marketing materials, to hosting open houses and showings, and beyond.  Your agent will be there with you through every step of the process.

Of course, once your agent procures a buyer - then the real fun begins!  Stay tuned for more information about the negotiation process.  In the meanwhile, if you are thinking about selling, give us a call!

Spring is in the air...

 

 

Ok, not really.  But we realtors are starting to  feel the stirrings of eager buyers and sellers.  The holidays are behind us, and people are thinking about houses again.  So, what does that mean specifically for buyers?  How does a person ready themselves to start looking for a home?

1.  Connect with a buyer's agent.  What some people don't understand is that the fee for a buyer's agent is built into the commission structure of any house being listed by a realtor through  the MLS (or multiple listing service -- the database of all houses listed for sale by any realtor within a specific geographic area -- in our case, it is the MLS Property Information Network or MLSPIN).  In other words, when you pay the negotiated price to buy a home, that amount covers the house price, plus the fee for both the buyer and seller's agent.  You pay the same amount regardless of whether you choose to have a buyer's agent as your dedicated advocate.  And having a buyer's agent to guide you through the process of purchasing your home, from helping you find a home, to helping negotiate the offer, to the inspection and any issues that may arise from that, to identifying a bank, and real estate attorney, and answering any questions that you may have about the process of purchasing a home - is invaluable.

2.  Speak to a bank about pre approval.  Most people looking to buy a home choose to apply for a mortgage in order to finance the purchase.  Your realtor can help you find a mortgage loan officer to work with.  But do keep in mind that while your realtor may know a great deal about mortgages, the person to look to for your answers is the loan officer him or herself.  By the same token, issues or questions with any legal relevance should be directed to your real estate attorney.  Your realtor will help you understand to whom your questions should be directed, and they will help connect you with the professionals you need to complete your transaction - mortgage loan officers, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, septic inspectors, contractors and engineers where applicable, etc.  It is a good idea to know which bank(s) you would consider working with, and to have a letter of pre approval from a bank before starting the process of looking for houses.

Two important steps to ready yourself for home ownership!  Stay tuned for tips for the home seller next time.

While You Were Gone...

So, we were out of town over the holidays for a few days.  While we were away, the temperatures in Western Mass dropped to the lowest we have seen yet this winter.  My husband -- the kilowatt kop -- had turned the thermostat down to 50 degrees in our absence.  Well, the betta fish survived, but our kitchen pipes froze!  Luckily, our plumber  has been doing some work for us recently so I was able to call him in my desperation.   He helped us to get everything up and running within a few hours.  No burst pipes, thankfully.  This experience has led me to start thinking about winter-specific home maintenance.  As homeowners, we need to be aware of the status of numerous systems within our homes.  Keeping the house warm enough to avoid frozen or burst pipes is in the realm of home maintenance 101... But there are other issues such as keeping chimneys swept and firesafe, keeping our gutters cleared, maintaining the integrity of our roofs, and keeping our heating systems up to snuff.  For instance, it would have been awful to come home on the coldest days of winter, to a non-functioning heating system.

 

Most people, when they purchase a new home, have a thorough home inspection.  In addition to highlighting any potential issues with the home you are purchasing - an inspection is an opportunity to learn about the systems in your home, and what you need to do in order to maintain them.  To that end, I came across this article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton's local newspaper, about heating system maintenance.  The article was written by Angie Hicks, the founder of Angie's List. Whether you're considering buying a home for the first time or you're a bit behind on your home's maintenance, there's something to learn here.

 

Here's some useful information from Angie about home inspections:

"An inspection and tune up will help ensure that your heating system is winter-ready, safe and efficient.  Our consumer-services researchers found that the price of a furnace inspection can start as low as $65 to $85. But the cost of neglecting furnace maintenance can be high, not only in terms of cost, but in convenience and safety.

 

Heating pros tell our team that 75 percent of emergency winter calls can be attributed to lack of maintenance. A neglected heating system may break down when you most need it. It can also lead to higher energy bills. In the worst-case scenario, an untended furnace may emit colorless, odorless but deadly carbon monoxide.

 

Our researchers found that during a thorough heating-system inspection, a technician will:

? Check electrical connections and test voltage, to make sure system components aren't likely to fail any time soon.

? Lubricate moving parts. Insufficient lubrication can decrease overall efficiency and create early wear and tear.

? Make sure the condensation drain for your home's air conditioner, furnace or heat pump isn't clogged. An obstructed drain can cause water damage, high humidity and mold or bacteria growth.

? Check startup and shutdown controls. The start and stop cycles, usually based on thermostat settings, should be checked to make sure the system is operating properly and safely and heating as programmed.

? Check, clean or replace the air filter.

? Inspect exhaust outlets. Improper exhausting may cause a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide or other gases. During a seasonal maintenance tuneup, the chimney flue or vent stack should be checked to ensure there's no corrosion, leaks or back drafting.

? Check fuel lines and connections and burners and heat exchangers. Leaky or disconnected fuel lines or connections present a safety risk and lower system efficiency. Burners with accumulations of soot and cracked heat exchangers also compromise a system's energy efficiency.

Aside from scheduling an expert inspection and tuneup, there are several things you can do to improve your system's efficiency:

? Replace filters regularly. Experts recommend changing them at least every three months, but your system may require more frequent changing. A clogged air filter will restrict air flow, causing the unit to work harder. This reduces its lifespan and raises your utility bills. If you're unsure how to deal with the filter, ask for help from your HVAC contractor during the routine maintenance visit.

? Install a programmable thermostat. These can save you up to 10 percent on your energy bills, since they allow you to avoid overheating your house when nobody's home, for example.

 

It's important to hire a well-trained and properly licensed professional to keep your furnace in tiptop shape. Heating and cooling systems comprise one of the home's most complex systems. Also, many states require heating and cooling professionals to be licensed.

 

When hiring a company to maintain your furnace, ask for and check references. Also, confirm that the company is appropriately licensed, insured and bonded."

 

What's your heating system disaster story?

 

Comments

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    D-I-Y!

    I love Northampton, have I mentioned this before?  There are so many reasons why, but, today I am thinking about all of my Northampton D-I-Y people.  One friend of mine makes moth eaten sweaters into adorable Sweater Handwarmersarm/hand warmers (pardon the blurry image).  And I got to be the lucky recipient of a pair at Christmas this year!  Another friend buys earrings at Target (for instance) for a fancy event, and then buys extra bling from the bead store in town to add to the earrings - making them more fabulous than they ever knew they could be!

     

    I love how crafty my friends are.  It is inspiring to me.  However, nothing bowls me over like the people who are able to D-I-Y their homes, and have them come out looking as good or better as if the work had been done by a professional contractor.

     

    I was having dinner the other night with dear friends of mine, who also happen to be clients.  They bought their home just over a year ago.  They have spent this year scraping off wallpaper, glue, carpeting, etc.  They have painted every room, they demo'd the basement themselves (which had some dampness) to prep it for mitigation and a new and improved pimped-out finished basement (as yet undone).  They are speaking to a friend who teaches wood-working classes about having his students build cabinets for their kitchen, down the road.  Of course, they are the god and goddess of entertainment and cooking, so I shouldn't be surprised - but I was wowed by what they have done all on their own.

     

    photo 1

    This image doesn't quite do it the justice it deserves.  Just imagine the "before" picture - ugly wallpaper, floors marred by old carpeting glue, an unattractive light fixture.  To me, this room now exudes warmth, color and coziness.

     

    Lastly, I have been following a blog written by clients of mine who purchased their home this past spring.  This is their first home and it really needed some elbow grease to bring it up to snuff!  They have done absolutely everything by themselves - and the house looks great!  They made need to rethink their career choices and create a new HGTV show!  They were able to see the diamond-in-the-rough and make it shine.  Not everyone has that vision.

     

    I like to assuage my feelings of inadequacy about the lack of D-I-Y that I, personally, have accomplished by reminding myself of the fact that I didn't really own a house until I had small children taking up most of my time.  There are pictures of me painting my son's room while pregnant!  And there are those curtains I once sewed for both kids bedrooms all those years ago.  See?

     

    Happy D-I-Y-ing!

     

    Looking for a new home you can go D-I-Y crazy with? Check out open houses in our area and let your imagination run wild.