How to Winterize Your Home (And Why You Must)

How to Winterize Your Home (And Why You Must!)

In comes November, and up goes that thermostat! New England’s winter chill is just around the corner. Sit at ease in front of the fireplace with a cup of cocoa this season knowing your home is prepared and protected through frost, sleet, deep freeze, nor’easters, and all else Old Man Winter brings.

Weatherproofing your home can not only help you save money on utility bills — it can save you hundreds if not thousands in repairs. The last thing any of us want is a burst pipe in the middle of a winter storm. And when late spring comes and you reach for the sprinklers to water your fertilized lawn, you’re in for a big, expensive surprise if you failed to blow out your system the previous fall.

Trust us — you really ought to spend a little money and time upfront to weatherproof and spare yourself thousands of dollars (and headache) in the long run. Protect your investment with this winter home checklist:

  1. Make sure your home’s pipes and hot water heater are insulated. If we’re expecting a very cold night, let the faucet drip. Reading this in February? Here’s how to safely thaw pipes and make temporary repairs.
  2. Locate and seal cracks and openings in the walls, attic, basement, or crawlspace. Caulk and foam are your friends! Check to see your ducts are properly sealed, too.
  3. Insulate crawl spaces, basement windows, and garage doors; and replace old windows with storm windows, adding weatherstrips to both doors and windows with drafts.
  4. Clean your fireplace before lighting it up this season. This prevents dangerous dust and soot from entering your home, and you’ll be able to determine if any creatures have made your home their home, if you know what we mean…
  5. Install a programmable thermostat. The Nest thermostats are great, especially for people not often home. Have peace of mind knowing your house is warm enough for safety while you’re away.
  6. Consider a generator. Power outages often last for hours, days or even weeks, and they can be costly if you’re not prepared.
  7. If you have a gas furnace, maintain it seasonally. Vacuum the interior, change the air filter, check the fan belt, lubricate oil bearings, and more.
  8. Check the roof for missing or damaged shingles, and have them replaced.
  9. Clean out your gutters. Wet leaves can freeze, become heavy, and cause great damage to your gutters and home.
  10. Winterize the sprinkler system. Sprinkler systems need to have all the water blown out of them before winter freeze-up.
  11. Drain and turn off any exterior water spigots, including any hoses or air conditioning pipes.

Overwhelmed? Hire help. Get in touch with us today and we’ll connect you with our network of plumbers, electricians, and handymen in Greater Boston with proven track records. Email us today at info@covellecohen.com!

Why Buy a Home in Somerville?

Here's Why You Should Call Somerville, Massachusetts Home

They say home is where the heart is. If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re living in the right place, consider Somerville — a city north of Boston wherein heart, community, and opportunity permeate. And although there are many factors to consider when deciding where to live, here’s why we think Somerville is an excellent place for families, young professionals, and retirees alike to call home.

Sense Of Community and Culture

Only four-square miles, Somerville is the fifteenth densest city in America — and it packs a big punch. Somerville’s an incredibly diverse city built for everyone. In 2015, Somerville was awarded the All-America City Award, celebrating municipalities that engage residents in innovative, inclusive, and effective efforts to tackle critical challenges. Residents are given the choice to simply live in Somerville or to “Be Somerville!” and play an active role in shaping their community.

Beyond that, there’s always something to do in Somerville — from the many festivals that take place in its neighborhoods year-round, like the beloved Fluff Fest, Honk! Fest, and Porch Fest, to the independently owned and operated Somerville Theater, home to the annual Independent Film Festival of Boston. And if art is your thing, there’s a community waiting for you at the Armory or at Somerville Open Studios.

Curb Appeal

“Slummerville? Haven’t heard that name in years.” Over the last few decades (since the arrival of the Red Line) Somerville has been going through a renaissance, making it a desirable place to live. The 2010 Census found that the city has the second-highest proportion of residents between the ages of 25 and 34 in the United States. It’s a city that is becoming increasingly hip, replete with craft breweries, all-season farmer’s markets, and trendy restaurants that lure high-end chefs, yet it still maintains a mom and pop feel from yesteryear, with iconic mainstays like Lyndell’s Bakery, Vinny’s Ristorante, and more.

Somerville is city convenience with a suburban neighborhood feel — run into your neighbors biking  down the Somerville Community Path or strolling through one of the city’s many parks and open spaces, just steps from shops, cafés, world class universities, and more. And, the upcoming arrival of the green line makes it a commuter’s dream.

Bustling Economy and Real Estate Market

Future job growth in Somerville over the next 10 years is predicted to be 39.5 percent. Property values continue to rise — condominiums last year appreciated 9 percent, and the median sale price for a single family home was $734,000. And Somerville’s residential tax rate is $11.31 per $1,000 of assessed value — that’s one of the least expensive statewide, at a rank of 291 across 347 cities and towns in Massachusetts.

Sold on Somerville? The Covelle & Cohen Greater Boston Real Estate team successfully helps both homebuyers and sellers navigate the process. SELL FOR MORE, BUY FOR LESS — in Somerville and beyond! Call us today at 857.529.7653 or connect with us online.

5 Do’s and Don’ts for Springtime Home Renovation

Spring is a great time to update your home! With the arrival of warmer weather and longer days  comes the itch to improve our dwellings, both inside and out. However, some renovations simply aren’t worth the investment or the effort. In many cases, you can achieve the same goal by spending less and focusing on key fixes. Get more bang for your renovation buck with Covelle & Cohen’s do’s and don’ts.

1. PAINT

DO — Go for a neutral wall color. Our go-to is Super White by Benjamin Moore in a Semi Gloss Finish. There’s nothing like the fresh look and smell of a new coat of paint. And, if you do it yourself, it’s a relatively inexpensive home upgrade. And don’t forget about that trim — today’s buyers want white woodwork.

DON’T — Paint a room just to shake things up. While you might have impeccable taste, the majority of buyers are going to be turned off by a deep red wall. When it’s time to sell, you’ll probably find yourself painting over it.

2. KITCHENS AND BATHROOMS

DO — White bathrooms with natural vanities, brass fixtures, and patterned floors are in. Luxury fittings such as free floating bathtubs and shower stalls not only look incredible, but they’ll hold their value overtime. In kitchens and baths, buyers love all white walls, with white subway tile and gray grout. In the kitchen, go for a timeless look with quartz countertops, contrasting islands, and warm flooring.

DON’T — Go nuts. In kitchens and baths, the truth is that you only receive 50 cents on the dollar for every renovation dollar spent. If you splurge on designer lighting and fixtures, save on cabinets where Ikea will do. We call this the high-low game.

3. FLEX ROOMS

DO — Utilize every inch! Finish that basement or attic. As more people than ever are working from home, it pays to transform unused areas into combined living and work space, such as a movie room, office with built-in desks and storage, or even a Pinterest-worthy upscale laundry room. Most buyers will pay more if they’re able to envision just how lovely life at your home is with these amenities.  

DON’T — Build more. Still want more space? Before considering an addition, make sure you’ve maxed out all your “flex rooms.” Building up and out is costly — only expect a fraction of a return on that investment.

4. FLOORS


DO
— Where do you typically find money? On the floor! Have your floors been carpeted or tiled over for decades? Uncover them. Chances are, you’ll find original hardwood flooring underneath.

DON’T — Splurge on carpets. While the plush fibers of a brand new carpet feel great on your feet, a carpet’s short lifespan means that the expensive stuff isn’t worth it. Because carpets stain and wear overtime, consider them a temporary installment.

5. UPGRADES


DO
— Install new technology like keyless entry, security cameras, and “smart home” and efficient home upgrades, such as smart refrigerators, lighting fixtures, and Nest thermostats. Buyers love high-efficiency everything, and these upgrades eventually pay for themselves because you’ll cut energy costs using them.

DON’T — Some things just will not add more value to your home. We find that buyers are not willing to pay more for new roofs, sprinkler systems, A/C units, or windows. We call these things “stabilizers.” Replace these only if necessary for you to enjoy life in your home.

Your home is your greatest investment. We’re always happy to strategize how you can both build equity as a seller and uncover potential equity as a buyer. Contact Covelle & Cohen today!

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).

30 Luxury Home Design Trends And Features Adorning 2017

Originally posted over on Inman

What high-end homebuyers seek, and sellers should consider…

Key Takeaways:

  • Luxury buyers look for anything but cookie-cutter, while convenience, style and recreation opportunities make the top of their wish list.
  • A ranch-style featuring a designer kitchen, blended living space and mixed-metal trimmings — such a house would embody 2017 luxury, so long as it was also decked out in smart home technology.
  • That’s according to twin brothers Jonathan and Drew Scott, co-founders of Scott Brothers Entertainment and Scott Living.
  • The duo and HGTV hosts — real estate agent (Drew) and fixer-upper transformer (Jonathan) — launched their first book this year, New York Times’ best-seller Dream Home: The Property Brothers’ Ultimate Guide To Finding & Fixing Your Perfect House, along with a luxury home project in Las Vegas: Dream Homes by Scott Living.
  • The project offers well-to-do buyers the chance to snag a new build from their portfolio of customizable original designs.
  • What do the brothers have to say about this year’s biggest luxury design trends, features and homebuyer requests? Which investments add value, and where should the top 1 percent of sellers refrain from splurging?

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