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!

5 Kitchen and Bath Trends Dominating 2018

If you’re thinking of making improvements to your home, a kitchen or bath remodel is a surefire investment to increase your home’s value. Why? Because buyers are most interested in seeing updated, beautiful kitchens and baths! And in a hot housing market like Greater Boston, a kitchen or bath remodel often returns more than 100 percent of the cost.

Of course, getting started can be overwhelming. First, know what’s out, what’s in, and what’s likely to stay! Read on for the top trends dominating 2018, followed by tips and tricks to maximize your money:

1. Countertops

Stone countertops are in. In fact, they’re the top item to splurge on because everyone loves a clean kitchen.
Photo: @finding__lovely

Stone countertops are in. In fact, they’re the top item to splurge on because everyone loves a clean kitchen. High-end developers and luxury homeowners go for Calacatta, a bright white marble with thick veins that range in color from gold to brown to beige to dark gray. It’s a gorgeous historic favorite sure to stay in style.

Tip: Love this look but not the price tag? Engineered quartz is eclipsing granite as the most popular material for countertops, according to Houzz. Quartz is cheaper but more durable than marble — perfect for wear and tear in a family kitchen.

2. High-End Appliances

Without a doubt, new appliances reel in buyers in Greater Boston’s hot housing market.
Photo: @marieflaniganinteriors

Without a doubt, new appliances reel in buyers in Greater Boston’s hot housing market. Who doesn’t want an induction stove, a warming drawer, a smart refrigerator, or a wine cooler? If you personally enjoy cooking and entertaining, high-end appliances are worth the splurge. Enjoy your chef-inspired kitchen now, and profit when it’s time to sell!

Tip: Be savvy. Keep in mind the best time to buy appliances. After a new release, you can often find the previous year’s high-end model for a fraction of the price!

3. Darker Tones for Cabinets

 Darker colors returned to 2018 kitchens this year — think navy, hunter green, walnut, and slate gray.
Photo: @neptunehomeofficial

While white kitchens will always be popular, designers are moving away from minimalist toward realist design. Darker colors returned to kitchens this year — think navy, hunter green, walnut, and slate gray. Many designers are even opting for two-tone cabinets, where the upper cabinets are light and the bottom cabinets are dark.

Tip: Cabinets are not the place to pour thousands of dollars. Save that budget for tile flooring, backsplashes, counters, or appliances. Why? Because those updates help sell the house! It’s more likely that in nine years, the trendy cabinets you chose will look dated, and you’ll regret over-spending.

4. Wall Coverings

Wallpaper is back, and it’s not your mother’s ‘80s florals!
Photo: @deeelms

Wallpaper is back, and it’s not your mother’s ‘80s florals! Wallpaper is a fairly inexpensive way to freshen up any powder room with an accent wall. Designer wallpaper ranges from geometric and art deco to bright and large-scale florals to even an “ombre” effect!

Tip: Want to go bold? Go for it! Wall coverings are a place to express yourself, and they’re an easy fix when selling your home. We’d recommend Chasing Paper, a beautiful, well-designed removable(!) wallpaper that will stick to nearly any surface.

5. Metal Fixtures

Metal fixtures are the simplest way to give your bathroom and kitchens a luxury look.
Photo: @kerrykirkphoto

Metal fixtures are the simplest way to give your bathroom and kitchens a luxury look. Faucets, lighting fixtures, mirrors, and frames all look incredible in nickel and brass against bright white. This year, we’re loving the matte black that’s trending!  

Tip: Fixtures are an easy way to stay on trend at minimal expense. For tubs, toilets, and bathroom sinks, stay classic with pure white! It will never look outdated.

COVELLE & COHEN Greater Boston Real Estate provides cutting edge strategies that offer a proven road map to suit any real estate needs. Contact us here or call 857.529.SOLD (7653).

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.

4 Big Expenses to Expect When Selling Your Home in Greater Boston

Selling Your Home? Read Covelle & Cohen Greater Boston Real Estate's Blog First.

It’s obvious that buying a home can be expensive, but did you know that selling your home can come with serious costs as well? While some upfront expenses are a matter of choice, many more are important investments in successfully selling — and selling for the highest amount possible. Other costs come at closing and from taxes. The key is to know what to expect and plan ahead. Here are the biggest expenses you can expect.

1. COMMISSION

At closing, you can expect to pay between 5 to 7% of the sale amount in real estate agent commissions. This commission is meant to pay both your agent and the buyer’s agent. Hire a great agent, and you’ll be sure to still earn a huge amount of money in proceeds after paying commission. A successful agent will work hard for you, not settling until they’re sure that the offer they ultimately accept is for the highest possible price and under the best conditions. That’s why it’s crucial to greatly consider who to hire as your realtor!

2. TRANSFER TAX

Many cities and states require the seller to pay transfer taxes. Massachusetts is one of those states. Also referred to as deed stamps or excise taxes, transfer taxes in Greater Boston cost $4.56 per thousand of the purchase price on the deed. If your home sells for $600,000, you can expect to pay $2,736 in taxes up front at closing. You should know that there’s debate among tax professionals as to whether you can write this off as a tax deduction and also that Somerville has recently proposed to change the transfer fee in favor of owner-occupants.  

3. CAPITAL GAINS

A capital gain occurs when you sell something for more than you spent to acquire it. Capital gains are included in Massachusetts income, and you’ll have to report a gain from selling or exchanging capital assets on Massachusetts Schedule D. Long term capital gains (for property held more than one year) are taxed at 5.2%. Federal capital gains can range from from 15 to 25%.

FYI — If you do end up earning less than $250,000 on the sale of your primary residence (or $500,000 if you’re married and file taxes jointly) after subtracting costs of preparing the property for sale, you likely won’t have to pay capital gains taxes.

4. MOVING

Roughly half of all people who move use professional movers, whether they’re moving short or long distances. Often overlooked, the cost of hiring movers locally can be as much as $2,000 for a four bedroom house. The cost to move out of state averages about $1,000 per room, with an average cost of 50 cents per pound.

Moving for work? In Massachusetts, you might be able to list reasonable moving expenses as a deduction on your taxes if your new commute will be at least 50 miles farther than old commute.

Planning a move? With tenure and experience coupled with talent and originality, Erica Covelle & Mike Cohen are top agents offering an exclusive white glove service. We are skilled negotiators who can help you get the best possible terms and price for your property. Call us today at 857.529.SOLD (7653) to learn about SELLING YOUR HOME with COVELLE & COHEN GREATER BOSTON REAL ESTATE: covellecohen.com/contact-us.

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!