Blog :: 08-2014

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

Three County Fair Opens Today!

Today at 4 pm, the gates open at the county fairgrounds in Northampton for the annual Three County Fair.  This year, the fair features a great line up of live music, performed by many favorite local bands - in addition to the usual fanfare.  If you are feeling melancholy about summer coming to an end, the fair is a fun last hurrah.  Read on for the Daily Hampshire Gazette's article outlining the many highlights of the historic event.

Fine tuning: This year's Three County Fair adds music festival

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Matt Jackewich, of Easthampton, who works in maintenance at Three-County Fairgrounds in Northampton, waters flowers near the main gate Wednesday.JERREY ROBERTS Matt Jackewich, of Easthampton, who works in maintenance at Three-County Fairgrounds in Northampton, waters flowers near the main gate Wednesday. Purchase photo reprints 

Among those setting up Wednesday in preparation for the fair's opening day Friday was volunteer Janet Mollison. She was overseeing exhibitors as they set up their displays of fruits and vegetables. About 50 exhibitors from age 4 to 80 will compete this year, she said.

"The exhibit hall to me is a place where no matter your age or abilities, we can find something for you. There's a place for the kid with a bouquet of wildflowers," she gestured to where two girls were arranging vegetables on a table, centered around a giant cabbage. "These kids are setting up their vegetable displays, and they've been working on them all summer."

While old standbys like the exhibit hall are ever popular, organizers have added something new this year that they hope will appeal to young adults, said Bruce Shallcross, general manager of the fair.

A music festival called Fair Fest will be held from 2 to 10 p.m. Monday on two stages. "It's going to be awesome," Shallcross said, adding that local and regional bands will take to the stage for performances throughout the fair's four-day run, Friday through Labor Day.

Exhibits galore

In the exhibit hall Wednesday, Lou Chadwick of Second Chance Farm in Greenfield took red- and green-hued Gravenstein apples from a crate and carefully polished each one with a towel before arranging them in a diamond shape on the table.

"We've been doing this for probably 30 years at different fairs, and we've been here for a good 15 years," said Chadwick, who also shows off his antique engine at the Antique Engine and Tractor Show at the fair.

Meanwhile, outside under the hot sun, workers for Rockwell Amusements set up some of the 20 rides on the midway off Bridge Street. The circular skeleton of the Ferris wheel rotated slowly, even though there were no seats yet attached.

Shallcross said the workers rolled into Northampton Sunday and have been setting up a variety of rides, including some for young children and many for the more adventurous fairgoers who enjoy adrenaline-inducing drops or being spun until they are green.

The oldest, continually run agricultural fair in the country, according to Three-County Fair officials, is a mix of traditions such as the exhibit hall and livestock judging, and more modern entertainment, such as the roaring monster truck shows, demolition derby and wine tastings.

Add the latest versions of food -- think deep-fried Oreos and an ice cream filled doughnut called the Moo-nut -- and you've got a fair.

"Hopefully, if the weather is good, we'll have around 40,000 total attendance," Shallcross said. "Last year with the bad weather we probably had 32,000 to 33,000."

The holiday weekend forecast is for partly cloudy weather with temperatures ranging from the high 70s to the high 80s, and thunderstorms possible Sunday.

Shallcross said advance ticket sales have been good for fair entry as well as for the $5 grandstand tickets for demolition derbies scheduled for Friday and Sunday nights.

Music festival born

While busy staff and volunteers bustled around him with last minute preparations in the fair's office Wednesday, Shallcross said the impetus for organizing a music festival for Labor Day was the fact that attendance has declined over the years on the fair's last day.

"Usually school starts the next day, so people leave early," he said. "So we said, 'Who will come out on a school night?' Young adults." And young adults in the Northampton area like live music.

He hired Tom Schack, a musician who books bands at area bars, to set the lineup. On the outdoor stage, next to the Polish Kitchen booth, will be The Dire Honeys, The Sun Parade, Groove Shoes, The Mary Jane Jones, Fat Bradley and Bella's Bartok. In the arena, the bands will include Gone by Daylight, Rhythm Incorporated, Lux Deluxe, Mammal Dap, The Alchemystics, Outer Stylie, and headliner Potty Mouth. For the full lineup, visit the Three County Fair Fest Facebook page.

Fair Fest entry is free with admission to the fair: $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and veterans, and free for those 11 and younger.

Live music has long had a place at the fair with the clubhouse featuring bands nightly, Shallcross said. In recent years, the fair has added "Preachin' the Blues," a series of blues performers on Sundays, and a Battle of the Bands featuring many young musicians, on Saturdays.

"Over the past eight years, one thing we've developed is music," Shallcross said. "We don't have some of the more country stuff that other fairs have, but people in Northampton like music. That's something we have that's a little different."

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

The Three County Fair, 54 Fair St., is open Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For a full schedule for the fair, visit www.threecountyfair.com.

How to Win the Bidding War on the Home You Want to Buy

Have you ever noticed how things that are going on for you in work or in your personal life often seem to pop up in the media at that exact moment?  I have been assisting a buyer over the past 24 hours, in making an offer on a desirable property in Northampton.  We are in a bidding war, about to submit our "highest and best offer", along with the other buyers who submitted an offer on the same property.  A bidding war is essentially a blind auction.  We use the tools at our disposal, but we never know what the strength is of the competing offer.  My client and I have pored over the comparable properties which have sold recently, and discussed the pros/cons and projected resale value for the property.  However, at the end of the day. he can only offer an amount at which he won't be disappointed that he didn't offer more if he doesn't get it; or that he didn't offer less if he does get it.  Negotiating offers is not black and white.  To that end, I happened upon this informative piece on realtor.com today.

How to Win the Bidding War on the Home You Want to Buy

By: Michele Lerner  How to Win the Bidding War on the Home You Want photo

If you are buying a home at the height of a citywide seller's market or simply want a sought-after house

Competing against faceless prospective buyers may bring out the warrior in you, but before you decide to go all out in your battle, you need to step back and decide how much you really want that particular home.in a neighborhood with limited turnover, you may find yourself in the midst of a real estate bidding war.

Should You Compete in a Bidding War?

In the thick of competition you may forget your end goal is a home you love and can afford to own. If your offers have been turned down by several sellers because of competing buyers, then you may feel pushed to make an aggressive offer for the next home you like.

You should stop yourself from competing just because you think the time is right to become a homeowner or to move up into a new place. Instead, think about whether you really want the particular house enough to fight for it.

To guard against making an emotion-fueled offer for a house, take a hard look at your finances. While it may feel good at first to beat out other buyers and to purchase a property, it won't feel so great in a year or two when you are struggling to make the payments on a house beyond your means. Know your limits before you begin to bid.

Prep for Battle

Your first step before entering a bidding war should be to consult with a lender to understand the maximum amount you can borrow, to evaluate how much cash you have to spend while keeping enough money in a reserve fund.

Next, make sure you hire an experienced REALTOR® who can share information about local market conditions and communicate with the seller's agent. You should rely on your REALTOR® for advice about how to handle a bidding war, but be sure to do your own research: visit a lot of homes in the area where you want to buy so you understand the value of various properties before you make an offer.

Bidding War Strategies

Your REALTOR® should work with you to craft an attractive offer based on the list price for the home, a comparative market analysis of similar homes, and knowledge gained from the sellers' agent about the sellers' motivations and preferences.

In a bidding war, it's important to work with a REALTOR® who will move quickly to present your offer and any counteroffer, one who is easy to communicate with during the transaction.

While you may assume money is the motivator that steers sellers to one buyer over another, there are other ways to make your offer attractive, such as these ideas:

Solid financing: You may be competing against cash buyers, so make sure your loan pre-approval is in place and you have completed all required documentation other than identifying a specific property.

Eliminate contingencies--carefully: If you own a home now, you may want to offer to buy another home without making your contract contingent on the sale of your current home. You take the risk of carrying two mortgages for a while, so make sure you can safely handle the payments. You can also decide to have an "information only" home inspection rather than making your offer contingent on the outcome of the inspection.

Make the settlement date convenient for the sellers: Rather than negotiating on a closing date convenient to all sides, you can tell the sellers you will work with their schedule or rent back the property to them after the closing.

Offer to pay all closing costs: You can reduce the sellers' out-of-pocket expenses by offering to pay their share of the settlement fees, but before you do this get an accurate estimate of what those costs will be and make sure you have the funds available to pay them.

Personalize the transaction: Sometimes the tipping point for sellers who receive multiple offers is something emotional rather than financial. A personal letter describing your love of their home may tilt the scale in your favor.

Try an escalation clause: Money talks, too, so you can add an escalation clause to your offer that increases your bid by a certain amount above other offers. Just make sure you set a limit on how high your offer will go.

Control yourself: Remember that any offer is subject to an appraisal (unless you waive that contingency, but that's not recommended unless you have plenty of cash), so be careful not to bid above the market value of any property.

For more information. any real estate needs, or to schedule a showing, contact us today! Discover recent real estate listings in the Northampton, MA area here.

via How to Win the Bidding War on the Home You Want - Buy - realtor.com.

Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

One of the pieces of advice we often give our seller clients as listing agents, is that a fresh coat of paint goes a long way towards making a home (or an individual room) look better.  In addition, it is a relatively small investment to make when thinking about how to improve the look of your home.  I found this relevant blog post on Apartment Therapy which gives concise tips about choosing paint colors.  Of course, you can always speak to your realtor about local painters who also specialize in help with color choices.  Whether you are more into the DIY approach or not, this information may be of interest.

Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

5-12-08paintcolors.jpg

We think Marilyn and Peter got it just right when they chose this shade of gray-green for their accent wall, but as winners of the 2006 Fall Colors Contest, they've got a natural knack for color. Not everyone is so adept at picking out paint, so we've listed a few tips below for choosing paint colors...

Just to kick off the conversation, these are ideas we've collected (especially over the last couple weeks, as we've been choosing paint colors for all the rooms in our new apartment). Add your tips and tricks in the comments below.

5-12-08painting4.jpgFlickr Finds: Dior Gray Accent Wall

o Choose a color that works with your furniture. It's much easier to change your walls than buy a new living room set, so use what you already own to guide your choices.

o Consider a room's natural light when choosing whether to go dark or pale. Generally, rooms with lot of natural light can handle dark colors better than a poorly lit room. Pale shades will usually reflect natural light.

o Choosing the right color is all about balance. If you have colorful furnishings or accent pieces in your home, try balancing them with more neutral walls. If your all-neutral furniture feels bland, use a bold color to give the room some kick.

5-12-08painting5.jpgColorTherapy: Coastal Fog

o If you see a color you like in a photograph, try to match it to a color chip. Although colors aren't reliable online, a photograph of a whole room gives you a better idea of a color than a swatch on your screen. For rooms that list color sources from AT, see NY's Color Therapy posts.

o Collect chips in a range of colors and look at them against any upholstery, rugs, and wood tones in the room.

o Pair wall colors with a complimentary trim, or paint trim and baseboards the same color as the walls for a modern look. When choosing trim, remember that colors change in relation to one another. Collect chips and samples for both your main and accent colors.

5-12-08painting3.jpgColor Combo: Gray and Blue

o In our experience, paint almost always looks darker on the wall than it does on the chip. If you're working off a chip, choose the color you want, then consider going a shade lighter.

o Choose the type of finish you want for your room. Flat finishes hide imperfections, while glossy finishes reflect light. Flat finishes are harder to keep clean (so they're not ideal for a kitchen or bathroom), but glossy finishes can look cheap if the walls aren't in top form.

o Even if you have to pay a little, invest in a small sample pot and paint a few swatches in your room, near the windows and in dark corners.

o Although painting can be stressful, it's one of the least expensive changes you can make in a room, so don't get too upset if you make a mistake. You can always change it later.

via Tips for Choosing Paint Colors | Apartment Therapy.

Testing the Connecticut River

I came across this article today in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton's local newspaper.  Since many of us living in the PioneerValley tend to spend a good deal of time in local bodies of water during the summertime (and beyond), I thought it would be a good idea to repost this information for our readers.  How healthy is our beautiful and picturesque Connecticut River?

Agencies team up for first 'Samplepalooza' to test Connecticut River

health

By DIANE BRONCACCIO Recorder Staff
Just how pollutant-free is the Connecticut River, from the top of Vermont to the Long Island Sound? A group of agencies will pool their efforts Wednesday to collect data on nitrogen and phosphorous content, along with other algae-growing nutrients, during a one-day water-testing event they are calling "Samplepalooza 2014." Teams of volunteers and professionals will visit at least 50 locations on the Connecticut River and its tributaries, covering more than 1,000 river-miles in Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. They will be taking water samples and testing for phosphorous, chloride, pollutants and nutrients, which can cause algae blooms that choke oxygen from the water. Nitrogen from the Connecticut River and other rivers entering the Long Island Sound has been determined to be the cause of a "dead zone" documented by researchers, according to the Connecticut River Watershed Council. Local samples will be taken near Route 10 in Northfield, in the Millers River, near the Erving/Wendell line, in the Deerfield River in Deerfield and along Fort River in Hadley, said Andrea Donlon, river steward for the watershed council. "What we're trying to get is a sense of -- on the same day, with no rain -- how these places compare with one another in terms of nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients," Donlon explained. This strategy allows for more accurate comparisons to be made among samples while minimizing differences in weather and river flow. Donlon said Connecticut has already done a lot of work trying to reduce nutrients that lead to oxygen depletion in Long Island Sound, but that the upper states along the 410-mile river have not done as much research. She said the findings from this sampling might help the upper states decide "how to get the most bang for their buck" by targeting cleanup efforts on locations that are most in need of improvement. "This effort is a one-day-only snapshot of the nutrient levels," said Donlon. Emily Bird, an environmental analyst for the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission in Lowell, said that portions of Long Island Sound bottom waters become hypoxic during summer months. Hypoxic means the water lacks adequate oxygen for aquatic life. She said excess discharges of nutrients such as nitrogen cause excess algae growth; when the algae dies, it sinks to the bottom and decomposes. The decomposition process uses up oxygen in the water. Between 1987 and 2000, the size of Long Island Sound's hypoxic area averaged 208 square miles. From 2000 to 2013, after a plan was adopted to reduce nitrogen loading to Long Island Sound, the area of hypoxia was reduced to an average of 176 square miles. From 1987 until 2013, the average duration of the hypoxia has been about 58 days. Groups participating in this effort include the Connecticut River Watershed Council, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.