5 Ways to Make Buyers Fall in Love With Your Home

Home staging can help buyers fall in love with your home.

It’s clichéd, but it’s true — you never get a second chance to make a first impression! Before your home hits the market, it may need a little facelift. We know you love your home (it’s yours!), but will others? Sometimes all that love over the years means your home is looking just a little… too lived in. It’s important that buyers are able to envision a life of their own. Here are a few tips to be sure potential buyers get hit with Cupid’s [real estate] arrow of love.

1. Landscape

When selling your home, you should make the outside as appealing as the inside.

It’s all about that curb appeal. The outside of your home is the first thing buyers see and sets the tone. Before even going inside, dead grass and a cracked driveway full of weeds could give buyers the impression that you haven’t taken care of the property. While you’re at it, give the windows a pressure wash, replace the weather-worn mailbox, give the front door and porch a fresh coat of paint, and maybe even create a small outdoor living space.

2. Declutter

Before showing your home to potential buyers, organize those closets!

It goes without saying that your countertops should be clean and clear, but what about the closets? And that junk drawer? Pack away anything you won’t need in the next few months. Clutter eats equity. Nobody can see how nice and big those closets are when they’re filled to the brim! After they’re clean, keep them open. A tidy open closet can make a room look bigger.

3. Make it sparkle

A clean and decluttered kitchen will help sell your home fast.

Did you know that it’s often the kitchen that sells a home? Clean the oven inside and out, wipe down everything twice, and give the floor a good wash and wax. When in doubt, hire a professional cleaner. They’re trained to hit all the nooks and crannies you might look over. Everything should sparkle. And before the showing, clear the air. Light a scented candle.

4. Stage it to be inviting

When selling your home, stage it to look clean and inviting.

Now that the clutter is gone, add a few appealing elements. Think tasteful seasonal decorations, a vase of flowers, plants, or a basket of fresh produce on your counter. Style the dining room table with vases down the center, or even set it for dinner (nothing too formal) to make it look inviting. In the living room, rearrange the furniture. Symmetry always looks good, and furniture arranged facing each other can create an inviting conversation area. Just before the showing, clear the air and light a scented candle.

5. Paint

Selling your home? A fresh coat of neutral paint is crucial to help a buyer fall in love.

Put a fresh coat of paint on all the walls. White is alway nice, but neutrals can create a rich, sophisticated tone, too. When you’re done, it should look clean and bright. Now is not the time for the fun and quirky bright orange accent wall. The point is to avoid creating any distractions that could prevent others from seeing the potential of your home.

As Barbara Corcoran says, “Home staging used to be optional. Today it’s a necessity in selling a house.” We couldn’t agree more. Contact us today for help selling your home: 857.529.SOLD (7653)

Team-Up Tuesday — A Q&A With Sarah Winchester Studios

Sarah Winchester is an amazing Boston-based interior design photographer.

It’s #TeamUpTuesday! Today, we’re proud to feature Sarah Winchester Studios. Sarah’s an amazingly talented Boston-based interior and architecture photographer. She’s worked will all types of clients, from fashion houses and magazines to construction companies and advertising campaigns. We sat down with her to learn a little more about her artistic approach.

What camera do you shoot on?
❈ For my commercial work, I shoot with a Canon DSLR. For my fine art photography, I either use my Canon or my mirrorless Fuji. A 2018 goal of mine is to start shooting again with my large format Deardorff. Like the good old-fashioned viewfinder camera. Also, the iPhone camera is quite a powerful and high quality camera these days. I use it a lot for scouting, ideas, and Instagram stories. The fact that it is always on my person makes it an indispensable tool.

What types of clients do you work with?
❈ For my commercial photography, I work with interior design professionals, architects and builders. I love helping them get a beautiful 2D photographic image that really tells the story of their 3D space. For my fine art photography, I work with anyone who loves art and wants a photograph.

How did you first get involved in interior design photography?
❈ I got involved with interior design photography through a friend and former studio mate, Erin Gates (Elements of Style). There were a bunch of us creatives renting out studio space in the Fort Point/Seaport area of Boston from some other amazing creatives, Jill Rosenwald and Lawrence McRae Ceramics. It was this wonderful group of artists, designers, and entrepreneurs, and we kind of worked as this little creative consortium.

Erin was working on her first book and I really wanted to segue my photography business to interiors and architecture.  She let me shoot a few smaller projects for her book. I loved the working atmosphere of an interiors shoot. There is such collaborative nature and feel to an interiors shoot. When the angle is perfect and the light is just right in a beautiful designed space… it’s truly magical.  Kind of corny, I know, but I still get a rush when that happens.

How does your fine art background influencer your aesthetic?
❈ The light… oh, the light! I think my years studying art history have really helped me understand how light composition can form an image and a feeling. There is almost a science to it. I’m actually a failed scientist. I started out college as a science major, but quickly switched to art when “life experiences” got in the way. I.e. I had a lot of fun and my chemistry class pulled down my GPA.

From a photography perspective, what design elements really make a space?
❈ There is a science to design as well. Color combinations, pattern mixtures, texture combinations, the form and placement of furniture; a talented designer is able to combine all these things in a seemingly effortless way. I am always in awe of that.

In contrast, which interiors are most difficult to make look good on camera?
❈ Shooting directly into a window is always challenging but it can also be the most beautiful and dynamic shot. New challenging spaces also help keep me on my game. I love a good challenge and feel it makes me a better professional.

What’s a favorite project you’ve worked on?
❈ Oh, there was this one home where I got to photograph a real Monet! The room was gorgeous too, and the design was beyond perfect. Not too traditional, not too modern, the perfect mix. I often revisit that shoot in my head wishing I could go back and shoot more.

Life advice for people who want to pursue their passion?
❈ Do it! Figure out the finances, figure out what you need to do to “make it work” and dive in—never with the thought that you won’t make it. Your specific goals and business approach may change as you grow and change but you have to go in it wholeheartedly. (Again, super corny I know.)

Learn more about Sarah Winchester Studios: http://www.sarahwinchesterstudios.com/

8 Tips Every First-Time Homebuyer Should Know

Happy Covelle & Cohen homebuyer at closing

So, you’re ready to purchase a home? Congrats! As Suze Orman says, “Owning a home is a keystone of wealth — both financial affluence and emotional security.” There’s no place like a home of your own, but for the first-time homebuyer, what follows the decision to buy can be both overwhelming and intimidating. Here are some tips and tricks to consider before you start house hunting.

1. Hire The Professional

You’re about to execute the biggest investment of your life. Work with an expert who can guide you through the process! You’ll need someone who understands current market conditions and can evaluate a property, negotiate, walk you through the paperwork, and more. Professional buyer’s agents have the tips and tricks to help you save the most money, and they often don’t cost the homebuyer anything. (Pssst! We can help you.)

2. In a Few Years, Everyone’s Going to Wish They Bought Now

Interest rates are at a historical low — mortgage loan rates are currently at 4 percent! Now’s the time to buy because those rates might soon go up. And Steve Murray, owner of Real Trends, reports that homes will steadily appreciate in the next 8 years. Consider your new home a smart investment.

3. Getting Pre-Approved Should Be Your First Step

How much home can you afford? Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores they’ll need. Pre-approval will tell you how much you can afford and give you confidence to dive into competitive markets. Plus, you’ll need an ironclad pre-approval letter for a winning offer. If you can’t find a bank willing to lend to you, consider an FHA loan. The Federal Housing Administration insures the mortgages of many first-time homebuyers. And, they’ll only require a down payment of 3.5 percent.

4. You Should Buy Smart (Buy the Ugly House)

Buying smart is buying good location, flow, light, amenities, and space for the price. The homes your realtor takes you to see aren’t always going to look like Pinterest masterpieces. If you can see past clutter and outdated decorating, there’s a good chance you’ll buy into property with more equity after minor cosmetic overhauls. Visit those sloppy listings that other buyers are overlooking, and have vision!

5. Sometimes, Speed is Key

If you come across a well-priced property, don’t hesitate to put in an offer. Hesitation opens the door to competition from other potential buyers, and when someone else wants it, the seller’s more likely to raise the asking price.

6. Strengthen Your Good Faith Deposit

When you execute a purchase contract as a homebuyer, it will specify how much you’ll initially put down to secure it and show “good faith.” In other words, it’ll show the seller how badly you want this property — and how serious your offer is. Increase your good faith deposit from the usual $1,000 to as much as $10,000.

7. Be Aware of Additional Fees

Yes, you’ll need to put a deposit down of about 5 percent. But did you know you might also need to pay for additional closing costs? Home inspection, appraisal, oil left in the home’s tank, one year of homeowner’s insurance, seller adjustment for taxes and condo fees, and next quarter’s tax payment can all add up. You’ll want to have extra cash for home improvements, surprise fixes, and furniture to make that house a home. Before buying, pay down your debt and have money in the bank.

8. Be Flexible — and Realistic

We’re fortunate to live in Greater Boston, a hot market where there’s continuously a demand for real estate. That being said, certain towns have extreme competition! If you’re uncomfortable paying tens of thousands over asking price, be open to shopping in a more gentle market. Don’t commit to more than you can financially handle.

Ready to buy? Using cutting edge strategies, Erica & Mike help buyers save money. We’re happy to guide you home. Contact us here or call 857.529.SOLD (7653).

Holiday Gift Guide for Homeowners

The stockings are hung, the lights are strewn, and there’s magic in the air… There really is no better time than the holidays to let family and friends know just how much they’re loved. Here’s our gift guide for homeowners — our top picks from local sellers that any homeowner in your life is sure to enjoy!

1. City Maps by JHill Design

A personalized map from JHill Design is the perfect gift for a new homeowner
Photo: @jhilldesign

A personalized map from JHill will forever remind the recipient of the place they were on a special day in their lives. These maps are one-of-a-kind gifts, perfect for newlyweds, a graduate, or new homeowners to hang on their wall. At Covelle & Cohen, we love gifting JHill’s Boston-area maps to clients! | @jhilldesign


2. Anything from Twelve Chairs in the South End

Decor from Twelve Chairs in Boston's South End
Photo: @twelvechairsboston

If you want that unique item that will really catch your guests’ eyes, look no further than Twelve Chairs, a home furnishings shop and interior design studio located in the historic South End neighborhood. There, you’re sure to find unique, vintage-inspired decor inspired by subtle details, enduring character, and custom craftsmanship. We love Twelve Chairs’ area rugs, bedding, end tables, and of course.. CHAIRS. | @twelvechairsboston


3. Plants from Niche Urban Garden Supply in Cambridge and Boston

Pretty curated plants from Niche Urban Garden Supply
Photo: @nicheboston

You can never have enough plants! For the plant parents in your life, Niche Urban Garden Supply has gifts galore. At this boutique plant shop located Cambridge & Boston, pick up a decorative potted plant in a contemporary container to add a little green to any living space. | @nicheboston


4. Lighting Fixtures or Clocks from Design Within Reach on Mass Ave in Cambridge

At Design Within Reach on Mass Ave in Cambridge, find wares from world-renowned designers
Photo: @designwithinreach

Design Within Reach gives people to the best in authentic modern design. At the Cambridge store, find luxe modern living home accessories from the likes of world-renowned designers such as Michael Anastassiades, Tom Dixon Studio, Muuto, and Philippe Starck. Sleek fixtures like these can transform any home from outdated to chic. | @designwithinreach


5. Wine from The Urban Grape in the South End

Find the perfect gift for your holiday party host at The Urban Grape in Boston
Photo: @urbangrape

Most of us could use a drink this holiday season…. Look no further than The Urban Grape, Boston’s award-winning wine, craft beer, and spirits store in the South End. Shop the holiday party selection here. | @urbangrape 


6. Art Print By Noat in Somerville

Noat’s minimal, modernist designs will tie together any room.
Photo: @designwithinreach

Noat’s minimal, modernist designs will tie together any room. Bonus: we think they’re quite calming to look at. Buy the art print here. Noat is the new project of Somerville-based brand design team, Oat. | @noatpaper


7. Walnut Bar Cart by The Cottage in Concord

Gorgeous bar cart from The Cottage in Concord
Photo: @bostondesignguide

Why walk all the way to the fridge or kitchen for refills? This gorgeous dark walnut bar cart from The Cottage in Concord fits perfectly with every holiday party. Give the gift of pretty and practical indulging this holiday. Protip from Boston Design Guide: dress it up with simple glassware and a festive wreath! | @the_cottage_concord_ma


8. Anything from HausWitch Home + Healing in Salem

Head to HausWitch in Salem to rebalance your home's energy with crystals and spell kits
Photo: @hauswitch

For the witch in your life! At HausWitch, find everything you need to bring good vibes home. We love the HausWarming Spell Kit for a Cozy Home… with clove scented candles and cinnamon incense. Buy it here, along with other crystals and spells made with love and reiki. | @hauswitch


9. Peterman’s Boards and Bowls

Every wooden bowl or accessory from Spencer Peterman has its own story
Photo: @petermansboardsandbowls

Every wooden bowl or accessory from Spencer Peterman has its own story. Peterman seeks out locally fallen trees like maple, cherry or black walnut. He upcycles otherwise discarded, decomposing wood to create strikingly unique, hand turned bowls. His crafts are the perfect statement piece for any kitchen counter of coffee table, sure to spark a conversation. Bonus: you can find these bowls at the Boston Public Market! | @petermansboardsandbowls

5 Things You Need To Know Before Renting A House

1. Research the area.

Think about the area before you move in. Is it near a hospital? If so, can you hear ambulances all the time? Is it near a noisy pub? Check all the surroundings before you sign. “It is up the tenant to do their own research and inspect the dwelling and surrounding area before they sign the agreement and move in,” James Plunkett, head of consumer research at Citizens Advice, tells BuzzFeed Life.

2. Discuss pets early.

“Bring up pets early in negotiations with your prospective landlord,” Plunkett says.

“If the landlord does not want pets at the address, then the tenant should look elsewhere. Having a pet in breach of a tenancy agreement that prohibits pets will generally lead to a possession action and eviction further down the line.”

Renting

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