Blog :: 10-2015

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

Painting Hardwood Floors to Freshen a Room on a Budget

When we pulled up the old linoleum kitchen floor in our last house in Northampton - we were excited to see fir floors beneath, just waiting to be brought back to life. I had my heart set on red floors - somewhere between the color of cherries and blood. I went to many paint and hardware stores in the Pioneer Valley to look for the right color stain, but all I could find were barn reds, mahogany reds and auburns. I consulted woodworker friends and was pointed in the direction of aniline dyes.  I purchased red and black dye from a local woodworking store, and then set about mixing up just the right hue before staining our floors. I won't go into the gory details, it was a messy process with a lot of room for human error. I did wind up with the perfect color red stain, which also allowed the wood grain to show through. 

I have always been a fan of painted wood floors. The right paint job on a floor can give a room so much personality, as well as a fresh new look - without spending a great deal of money. Whether you are interested in creating a pattern on the floor, adding a pop of color, or going with a lighter neutral, a painted floor can be a wonderful way to change up the look of your space.

The following article from the Associated Press provides food for thought about how to go about painting a hardwood floor.

Painting the hardwood: A creative Solution for Worn Floors

by Melissa Rayworth, Associated Press

(Photo: Karina Kaliwoda/Houzz.com/AP Photo)

 

Worn and faded hardwood floors can drag down the look of a room. But having scuffed floors sanded down and re-stained can be expensive and messy.

One alternative that's gaining popularity: painting older hardwood floors. You can add solid color, stripes, or any imaginable stenciled or hand-drawn patterns to a floor.

There's actually a long tradition of painted wooden floors in American homes, says Tom Silva, general contractor on the long-running PBS television series "This Old House." One hundred years ago, paint was considered a practical way to protect floors and add some beauty in the process.

In a survey done this month of more than 1,200 users on the home-improvement website Houzz.com, 15 percent said they're ready to make the leap to painting while 85 percent were still more comfortable with stained wood floors. But Houzz editor Sheila Schmitz says some of the site's members who have embraced painted floors have done so with real creativity.

"We've seen homeowners reinvent their floors with glossy white paint, oversize stripes, checkerboards with alternating natural and painted finishes, and even more fanciful shapes," Schmitz says.

It's a DIY project that requires effort but little experience.

So how do you do it, and what are some of the boldest, most interesting approaches you can take?

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Prep smart

Fans of painted floors point out that the process is less labor-intensive than staining because you don't have to sand away every old scratch or stain. But that doesn't mean you can skip the step of prepping your floors.

Clean the floor well, says Silva, then scuff it with sandpaper just enough to create a slightly rough surface. That prep work is the key to making sure the first layer of paint or primer will adhere. Primer isn't required if the floor already has some finish on it. But putting down a few thin, clear coats of primer can make it easier if you decide years from now to remove the paint.

If you do prime the floor, use sandpaper to lightly scuff that clear coat after it dries to help subsequent painted coats adhere well.

Rich red paint on the hardwood floor brings warmth and color to this stylish, gender-neutral nursery. Painting hardwood floors can be an inexpensive and easy solution, especially in rooms where the floors has become worn and scuffed after many years of use. () (Photo: Holly Marder/Houzz.com/AP Photo)

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Bold floor, neutral walls

Interior designer Camila Pavone was ahead of the trend in painting her kitchen floor in 2010. The room previously had green walls and a stained wood floor. Pavone switched the walls to a creamy white (she used Martha Stewart's "Glass of Milk") and covered the wood floor with jade green paint. She considered using marine paint but chose a formula called Break-Through!, which dries quickly and creates a harder surface than many other types of paint.

Five years later, Pavone is still thrilled with the result. The floors "always get a 'Wow' when new people come to my house," she says. "The only thing I didn't take into account was the wear and tear of two dogs and now two kids. The claws on the dogs do scratch the floors up a bit. But I try to pretend that if I saw that in a store display in Anthropologie, I would think it was fabulous. So I don't stress."

Because the kitchen is a high-traffic area, Pavone has repainted the floors once every two years to keep them looking shiny and scratch-free. But that work is relatively easy.

"It's a really fast project and normally only takes around two hours," she says. "I would totally do it again!"

 

Pick any pattern

Paint can also be perfect for entryways. Thick stripes, diamond or chevron patterns can make a small foyer seem bigger, drawing attention to an otherwise ignored space. Once the floor is cleaned and prepared, simply lay out your design with painters' tape. Be careful to measure the width of stripes or the angles of diamonds or chevrons to make sure you've laid the tape in the proper places.

Consider using large stencils to add a pattern to the floor of a larger space, like an enclosed porch. Or paint a brightly colored "rug" in the center of a room by first painting a solid rectangle, then adding a pattern once that solid coat is completely dry.

Another option: Coat the floor with a semi-transparent stain or paint that allows the grain of the wood to show through. Once it's dry, use painters' tape to create a border around the room that you'll fill with a contrasting or complementary color or pattern.

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Take time for topcoats

Once you've finished your painted masterpiece, add one or several clear coats on top for protection. Patience between layers is the key: You may be tempted to paint again as soon as one thin coat feels dry to the touch, but you'll get a much stronger and more attractive result if you leave extra time.

Silva points out that oil-based topcoats "may add a little bit of a goldish color to it, because of the oil. Water-based will give you the true color of the paint."

And, obvious as it may sound, remember: "Know where to start and where to end," says Schmitz, "so you don't literally paint yourself into a corner."

 

No Need to Clear the Leaves!

I have to say, when we moved from a 1/2 acre plot of land in downtown Northampton, MA to a 1/4 acre parcel in Florence, MA - I assumed we would have no more fall clean up to speak of. At our last house, we were practically knee deep in pine needles, carpeting the lawn and burrowing in between the shrubs and plant. The energy we expended on raking those needles was endless, and we never were able to get rid of all of them. Now we have fewer pine trees, but plenty of other varieties of deciduous trees which are shedding their beautiful leaves all over our tidy 1/4 acre lot. When I pull into or out of the driveway at the end of the day - I become fatigued just looking at the leaves and thinking about the work we still have yet to do. 

I was thrilled when someone shared the following link with me about a week ago. I had forgotten that leaves can be used to mulch the soil and increase nitrogen levels, making the soil richer. I don't need to be encouraged to "let nature complete its cycle" twice. Count me in for leaving the leaves where they land!

 

In natural ecosystems, there is little waste. Nutrients taken up by plants are returned to the soil when plants die and decompose. Food eaten by animals is excreted; at the end of their lives, animals are also returned to the soil. Ecologists call this nutrient loop a biogeochemical cycle.


In suburban and urban neighborhoods, this cycle is broken. Yard waste, such as grass clippings and fallen leaves, are largely removed in bags or sucked up into giant vacuum cleaners from roadside piles. Water that once percolated through soils, carrying nutrients to plant roots, is routed to drainage ditches and nearby streams and rivers. Meanwhile, residents fertilize lawns and gardens due to nitrogen deficiencies.

Researchers at Boston University found that yard waste removal in the City of Boston eliminated 1/3 of the nitrogen needed by urban trees. Retaining yard waste could potentially reduce fertilizer demand in Boston suburbs by one-half. Overall, the city collected 8,000 tons of yard waste, carrying 64 tons of nitrogen offsite.

Soon, neighborhoods across the Northeastern states will roar with the sound of leaf-blowers. Here is a different suggestion: keep fallen leaves in your yard. They can be raked under shrubs to provide a layer of mulch. Rotary mowers grind fallen leaves, returning their nutrients to nourish your lawn in spring. We need to think of leaves as a resource, not a waste product.

While it’s true that some municipalities collect leaves for compost, rather than landfill burial – think of the energy and tax dollars that could be saved by not picking up yard waste at all. If possible, let nature complete its cycle.

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–This segment was adapted from an essay by Dr. William H. Schlesinger. You can read the original piece on his blog Citizen Scientist.
 

 

Property Values and the Gas Pipeline

Many Pioneer Valley homeowners, realtors and citizens have been contemplating whether the installation of the proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast will affect property values in the Northampton area. While the following article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette is inconclusive, it does seem to suggest that there may both safety issues in having a home in close proximity to a compressor station, and, at the least, a temporary dip in property values while the pipeline is being installed. Of course, there are also the environmental concerns surrounding this project. A group of Franklin County towns have formed the Municipal Coalition Against the Pipeline to fight the project. To follow is the article in the Gazette.

Impact on property values a concern for residents along route of proposed natural gas pipeline

RECORDER FILE PHOTO The home at 382 Lower Road in Deerfield is within 500 feet of the path of the proposed natural gas pipeline.

The home at 382 Lower Road in Deerfield is within 500 feet of the path of the proposed natural gas pipeline.

By TOM RELIHAN
For the Gazette
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
(Published in print: Wednesday, October 14, 2015)

DEERFIELD — With a natural gas pipeline and accompanying compressor station proposed to be built in western Massachusetts, many residents along the expected route have found themselves worrying about how it could affect the value of their homes.

In August, Heather Reloj, who owns a home on Lower Road in Deerfield, asked the town to repay taxes that she had paid last year and reduce her taxes going forward due to how close the project is expected to pass by her house. And residents of Gulf Road in Northfield have expressed concern about how a potentially noisy — and some say dangerous — 41,000-horsepower compressor station expected to be built nearby could affect the value of their homes or insurance policies.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Energy Direct project would cross through Plainfield in Hampshire County and eight Franklin County towns on its way from Pennsylvania shale fields to Dracut.

Though most of the area’s real estate and appraisal experts say it’s too early to speculate on the possibilities and the Massachusetts Association of Realtors — a trade group with a membership of 20,500 real estate professionals — said it does not have any data on the issue, how it has played out in places where such infrastructure has already been installed has been studied before.

Studies say


According to a 2013 study by the Forensic Appraisal Group LTD, a Wisconsin firm that specializes in issues with the potential of litigation related to pipelines and electric wires, natural gas pipelines have a definite, measurable effect on the value of homes on the properties that they cross. The study focused on gas transmission pipelines like the proposed Northeast Energy Direct project and how a potential home buyer’s perception of associated risks could detract from home values.

The study, conducted by senior appraiser Kurt Kieslisch, surveyed real estate agents and considered another study that surveyed home buyers. Both groups were asked their opinions on how information from negative media reports about pipelines or legal disclosure of a pipeline and the associated risks on a property might impact their decision to purchase it or increase the difficulty of selling it, in the Realtors’ case.

It found that the property became more difficult to sell with each additional level of information provided about the nearby pipeline.

“Damages resulting from perceived market negative influence are sometimes known as ‘stigma’ or ‘severance’ damages,” wrote Kieslisch.

The firm also carried out a number of “impact” studies comparing the sale price of similar homes that were encumbered by a pipeline easement and those that were not, in Ohio and Wisconsin. It found that the presence of a gas transmission pipeline decreased home values by about 12 to 14 percent on average in Ohio and about 16 percent on average in Wisconsin.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates interstate natural gas pipelines and is ultimately responsible for permitting them, appears to disagree, however.

In a previous environmental impact statement issued by FERC for Constitution Pipeline Co. and Iroquois Gas Transmission System’s Constitution Pipeline and Wright Interconnect project in Pennsylvania and New York, which was permitted in December 2014, the agency determined that property values were “not substantially affected” by a nearby pipeline.

A handful of studies cited by FERC in the environmental impact statement concluded that property values aren’t heavily affected by pipelines, though one of the studies showing that property values dropped following an incident along a pipeline and recovered over time.

The statement acknowledged that appraisals do not generally consider “subjective valuation” — the idea that some things are worth more or less to different people based on how much they personally desire or need it and their perception of associated risks, in the case of pipelines, which the Forensic Appraisal study said has a definite effect on purchase decisions.

“That is not to say that the presence of a pipeline, and the restrictions associated with a pipeline easement, could not influence a potential buyer’s decision to purchase a property. If a buyer is looking for a property for a specific use, which the presence of the pipeline renders infeasible, then the buyer may decide to purchase another property more suitable to their objectives,” the environmental impact statement noted.


Oregon project

One of the studies was conducted in 2008 by Dr. Eric Fruits, a economics professor at Portland State University. The study, which he was hired to perform for the Oregon LNG Project as part of the FERC’s environmental impact statement process there, reviewed the effects of the South Mist Pipeline Extension — a 24-inch diameter pipeline in northeastern Oregon — on local home prices. Similar to the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline, the South Mist Pipeline Extension line is buried for its entire 62-mile length with the exception of above-ground valves and inspection stations and the land above it is a permanent, 40-foot-wide easement.

Through an analysis of local assessor’s data and property values both before and after the pipeline was constructed, Fruits found that both the announcement and completion of the project had little effect on property values. In Clackamas County, Oregon, if all of the houses along the pipeline route were located exactly one mile from the pipeline and were sold after operation commenced, he wrote, the total value of the sales would only decrease by 1.9 percent over what it was before the pipeline was installed.

This year, Fruits and another Portland State researcher, Julia Freybote, revisited the topic in a second study. That study investigates the relationship between a prospective home buyer’s perceived risk related to a nearby pipeline and sales prices, as well as the media’s role in influencing sales prices through coverage of unrelated fatal pipeline explosions elsewhere.

The study, which focused on the same pipeline and data set as Fruits’ earlier study, surveyed about 30,000 home sales transactions within a mile of the pipeline, he said. It concluded that home-sales prices dropped suddenly during months in which fatal pipeline explosions were covered by local or national media. Fruits said the study, which he and Freybote conducted independently as an extension of the 2008 study, showed that coverage of such incidents do have a small effect, but it goes away after a couple of months.

“If you look at the grand scheme of things, a lot of things need to line up for that to happen,” Fruits said. “You’ve got to be pretty close to the pipeline, and you’ve got to be trying to buy or sell the house when there’s an accident.”

Washington explosion

When there is a highly publicized incident along a particular line, however — such as the explosion that occurred along the Olympic gasoline pipeline in Bellingham, Washington, on June 10, 1999, and killed three people — property values can drop suddenly but, again, recover over time, according to a 2006 study by Western Washington University economics and finance professors Julia Hansen, Earl Benson and Daniel Hagen titled “Environmental Hazards and Property Values: Evidence from a Major Pipeline Event,” which was also cited in FERC’s Constitution statement.

The study analyzed sales transactions along two petroleum product pipelines, the Olympic and the nearby Trans Mountain pipeline, which carries crude oil, for a period of 5½ years before and five years after the Olympic explosion. The Trans Mountain pipeline had never experienced an incident during the period studied.

Hansen, an economist who focuses on housing, said she and her colleagues live in Bellingham and the incident spurred their interest in how pipeline accidents affect home values.

The study found that proximity to the accident-free line saw no effect while properties within 50 feet of the Olympic line saw a 4.6 percent decrease in their home values, a figure which dropped precipitously until no impact was experienced at distances farther than 1,000 feet from the pipeline.

“We found that prior to the accident, houses near a pipeline sold for no less than similar houses elsewhere, but after the accident, houses near the pipeline that ruptured sold at a discount. The closer to the pipeline a house was located, the larger the discount,” Hansen said. “These findings suggest that the accident did in fact have the effect of increasing the perceived risk of living near a pipeline. However, we also found that the discounts become smaller over time, indicating that some of the effect on home prices was temporary.”

Harder to get a mortgage or insurance?

FERC was not able to determine whether the proximity of a pipeline makes it more difficult for a homeowner or potential buyer to get a mortgage, as banks and mortgage lenders would not confirm that to be the case during FERC interviews, the statement said.

The environmental impact statement also failed to measure the impact on a homeowner’s insurance policy regarding a pipeline being installed on their property. The statement said the agency carried out an independent study that involved calling representatives from a variety of insurance companies both in the Constitution project’s immediate area and nationally, but the companies either would not provide specifics or simply never returned inquiries.

“We researched the topic of homeowners and title insurance policies and conducted our own interviews with regional experts, where possible. Some experts would not authorize us to use them as references and others were unwilling to provide their professional opinion,” the statement read. “The real potential for these impacts is unclear and would likely be highly variable.”

The companies in the local project area did, however, acknowledge that the potential exists for a resident’s policy to be affected by the project.

Local experts

While many local real estate agents and appraisers declined to comment for this story, citing the premature nature of the issue or the controversy surrounding the pipeline, or did not return phone messages, at least one insurance representative said he did not expect a gas pipeline to affect his client’s policies.

Tim Farrell, the owner of Gilmore & Farrell Insurance in Greenfield, said none of the insurance companies he represents currently take gas transmission lines into consideration on applications for homeowner’s insurance, and he does not expect a new pipeline would affect policies.

“One of the questions we ask is how the home is heated, but gas off the street and propane tanks haven’t been a problem. We don’t like to see buried oil tanks,” he said. “As far as I know, there aren’t transmission lines here, but if there are, they haven’t been an issue.”

On the web:

FERC EIS — s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1354764/ferc-eis-constitution.pdf

Fruits, 2008 — tinyurl.com/q56crne

Hansen, et al. 2006 — pstrust.org/docs/ResidentialPropertyValues.pdf

 

Comments

  1. Sue Louisignau on

    I am a real estate appraiser. There is stia and it will effect value. The VA has specific guidelines for lending near power lines, pipelines. Our area is unique....not just a typical development. People move to the Pioneer Valley or Hilltowns for much more then having a roof over their head. There is stigma and it will effect values for houses near the compressor stations and those with pipeline crossing their land. It is possible you may not be able to finance that property. You cannot compare our area with a subdivision somewhere. This will have effects on value. Susan Louisignau. SRA, RA, M.Ed 229 Maple St Northfield, MA 01360 413-498-0080

    43 Fair Street in Northampton, revisited!

    Fall is upon us, and our listing at 43 Fair Street is still available, much to our surprise! This lovingly renovated 1756 sf, 3 bedroom, 2 bath farmhouse sits on a 1/2 acre lot, abutting the fairgrounds in downtown Northampton. It has been renovated top to bottom, inside and out by the previous owners, and maintained and improved upon by the current owners. Central A/C was installed just this summer! This house has the charm of a farmhouse, with all the modern conveniences and energy efficiency of a new home. Come take a look at this special house, which is a stone's throw to downtown Northampton, the entrance to 91 and the bridge to Hadley and Amherst. From the peaceful front porch, to the open concept living/dining room and kitchen, to the pellet stove, the hardwood floors and clawfoot tub in the downstairs bath - this house oozes charm and character.

    The price has recently been lowered to $319,000!

    To follow is a testimonial from the current owners, describing what they have loved about their home and the proximity to the fairgrounds.

    "People always ask - What's it like living next to the fairgrounds.  Well, we have loved it!  Contrary to peoples' assumptions, it's quieter and less noisy here than other parts of town because of the fairgrounds.  Sure, the 3-County Fair in the fall is quite an event (and we get free tickets), and for that weekend our street is busy, but we hardly notice the other fairground events throughout the year.  Throughout the summer there are horseshows, but all of the stalls, barns and trailer parking are on the other side of the fairgrounds, so we get to enjoy the views of the horses without all of the traffic.  The Morgan Horse Show comes in the middle of the summer and is longer than the other shows - about a week and a bit busier, but it's not a bother and we've always enjoyed walking across the street to watch the evening events.  The fall, winter and spring are all quiet.  We've always thought that it was the best of both worlds - like living in the country, but so close to town.

     

    - Owners of 43 Fair Street, Northampton MA"

     

    Living room with pellet stove

     

    Kitchen with view to dining room

     

    Master bedroom

     

    Second bedroom

     

    Spacious back yard

     

    Beautiful front porch. Curb appeal

     

    Clever Storage Ideas for Everyone!

    Those of you who have read my blog posts in the past, know that I am a big fan of the Apartment Therapy blog. Although the overall slant of the blog is about how to use limited space in a clever, tasteful and design-lover-worthy way (such as in apartment living) - I find there are many posts which are relevant to life in single family home as well. Many of us Northampton dwellers are design-driven. You don't have to live in a tiny apartment in a large city like NYC to appreciate clever and well-designed storage ideas! As realtors, we are often faced with the challenge of helping seller clients remove the clutter in their homes. This article highlights some great ideas for creating storage solutions in your home... which can help both with decluttering for resale, or just day to day clutter-free living! It also provides great ideas for people who are either building or renovating their homes. Enjoy!

     

    10 Clever Hidden Storage Solutions You'll Wish You Had at Home


    Run–don't walk–to your nearest contractor, cabinet maker or handy family member and ask–nay, beg–to have one of these seriously smart solutions built into the storage around your home.

    Some of these ideas might even be worthwhile for long-term renters; if you're settled into your "almost-forever" apartment, give your existing cabinet specs to a builder and see if they can't craft a new drawer or slide-in piece with one of these brilliant solutions built right in:

    Above: A drawer for all your endless utensils.
    From Hearthstone Design.


    This slide-out bathroom styling station.
    From Sicora Design Build.



    This pull-out sideways medicine cabinet.
    From College City Design Build, via Houzz


    These slim drawers built in the bathtub casing.
    Designed by Wanda Ely, spotted in this tour on Houzz.



    This convenient spot for dry ingredients.
    From a 2009 issue of Maison & Demeure.



    These stairs-turned-drawers.
    As seen on Houzz, from Henarise Pty. Ltd.


    This cleaning supply cabinet with a built-in caddy.
    From Wood Mode Custom Cabinets.



    This hideaway pet dish and food storage combo.
    Another one from Wood Mode Custom Cabinets.



    This slide-out knife block.
    Designed by Signature Design & Cabinetry and featured on The Kitchn.



    And this drawer, which is actually a ninja stepstool.
    From The Kitchen Source, via Houzz.

    (Image credits: Jeff Freeman; Sicora Design Build; College City Design Build; Andrew Snow; Maison & Demeure; Henarise Pty. Ltd.; Wood Mode; Signature Design and Cabinetry; The Kitchen Source)