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Blog :: 06-2011

How to make your Listing Sell

The keys to selling a property efficiently and for the best price in today's real estate market are sometimes tricky. Today, you are competing with foreclosure and short sale prices in addition to every other home for sale (not to mention for rent).  In my opinion, 2 main ingredients are necessary on top of competitive and aggressive pricing and a stellar local listing agent to host open houses, produce marketing materials and navigate today's turbulent housing market for you.

1. Proper staging. I cannot tell you how important having a welcoming, productive set up in your home is. (There are even multiple shows on HGTV devoted to this). Clearly giving every room a purpose will aid buyers in being able to visualize their lives in the space. A completely empty home is almost as bad as a totally cluttered one. Speaking of, decluttering and depersonalizing is vitally important, but there is such a thing as too declutterd. There is a fine line between lack of character and lack of personalization. You want there to be a consistent design sceme throughout the home, which makes it all look usable and unique, but you don't want anything that describes a specific person too much (i.e. an orange accent wall). The $1000 it would take to replace light fixtures and get a new coat of paint will be worth the it because when the right buyer comes in, they'll know imedietly (as most buyers decide within the first 30 seconds within a property whether or not they're interested).

2. Innovative and strong online presence. Today is a world of online shopping. When was the last time that went to a restaurant or a store, or gone to see a movie without googling it first? Those are just small investments. Nobody goes to see a home for sale without googling it. Buyers want to see high resolution photos of everything! Not including photos of a restroom or kitchen will make the buyer assume something is wrong with them, and they'll move on quickly. Beyond taking professional pictures of all the spaces (that are beautifully staged), placing the unit information in as many locations as possible is essential. Web site domains names are inexpensive and important when it comes to getting word out about your listing. Including simple ways to contact the listing agent, neighborhood information, downloadable fact sheets, etc. is important.

These are starts to getting the job done well and quickly in today's hard "buyer's market". Obviously, there are no guarantees when it comes to selling, but these keys will certainly help you unlock that sale sooner rather than later.

Southie is not the Same

Much has changed since Whitey Bulger left Southie. says that he "would hardly recognize the neighborhood where he grew up." It's true. The gentrification of the neighborhood is occurring quickly. While it is still sometimes regarded as the most dangerous or inexpensive place to live in Boston, it is quickly changing. It now hosts cute boutiques and some seriously expensive real estate. For example, Broadway used to be home to this:

The site made famous thanks to The Departed and infamous for being a cover for Whitey Bulgar's many "paybacks," used to set the tone for a crime-ridden area that now, some 15 years later is home to this:

This is the newest addition to the area: Local 149. South Boston is certainly in the process of undergoing some changes and from what I've read, many people believe it's for the better. How do you feel? Do you think that Southie is loosing its roots?

(photos are from

Rents going up, up, and up.

As many brokers and tenants seeking units have noticed, rents are on the rise and available units are on the low. It is the laws of basic business: low supply+high demand=high prices. Landlords have been recognizing larger potential earnings from their units and 5-10+% increases haven't been unheard of. After seeing much of this first hand in the Back Bay market I was not surprised to read the same in an article by Jane Hodges on

These rental hikes have been felt by tenants coast to coast. Tenants often find themselves arguing with landlords over raises and search for other options only to find out rents have been raised everywhere else too. Although we'd all like more for less, the market is challenging tenants wallets. However, rents are always rising. If you put off another year, you may see another 5-10+% increase. So although it may not be the price you want, it could save you money going forward.


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Boston's BOOMING Rentals

I recently attended a panel discussion hosted by Link Boston in an absolutely stunning unit on the 26th floor of the new building in downtown Boston, 45 Province. Here is a view from one of the floor to ceiling windows in the brand new 3+ bed, 3 bath unit:

Suffolk Construction, First Republic Bank and Gentle Giant Movers were all present, and helped contribute to the event. Many Realtors and developers were also in attendance, and the conversation was focused on "Building Boston." Specifically, the future of new construction in the city.

I will preface my recap of the discussion with two things. 1. Boston is by far one of the healthiest markets in the country right now. 2. Rentals versus sales is a cyclical process.

With that said, Boston is all about the rentals right and otherwise. The BRA, Boston Redevelopment Authority, has approved many developments of late, and they are almost exclusively rental housing. A lot of people just aren't in a position to buy right now, but just about everyone wants to rent. (However, many of the rental units being built are being designed so that perhaps someday they could be converted into condos).

So, the first thing we know about the Modern Bostonian is that they want to rent. What else? Since buildings are being designed and built for them right now, it is important to understand the culture of these target clients and create something for them that reflects their culture-- complete with its values and expectations from housing. Here is a list the Modern Bostonian's priorities:

Number 1: Fitness center. Gone are the days when a few treadmills in the corner of a building's poorly lit basement sufficient for a rental building. It used to be that people would be able to justify a unit saying, "Oh, I'll work out if I live here..." and then forget about it. Now, it is absolutely essential for there to not only be a fitness center, but it needs to be large, well lit, front & center and state of the art. It all boils down to the Modern Bostonian needing to see and be seen. Which leads to...

Number 2: A club room: a place for people to communicate, connect, relax, see and be seen. People will accept less space in their unit if there is an attractive common area for them to interact with others.

Number 3: No parking. The Modern Bostonian is no longer dependent on parking. Therefore, gone are the days of 1.7 spaces on average per unit. The Modern Bostonian lives right next to work, likes a walk and isn't afraid of a taxi. I hate to say it, but it's moving towards the NYC lifestyle in some parts.

Number 4: Service. People want service in their rentals: cleaning, food, maintenance, etc. The Modern Bostonian, and people in general, like to feel like they are getting a lot for their money.

Number 5: Environmentally friendly. The Modern Bostonian loves solar panels, rain barrels and HE appliances.

Now that I've talked about the residential market, we see some of the same trends in the commercial buildings.  Although Boston's market is healthier than most, it is in no position to build a brand new high rise office building. However, we are already seeing changing office spaces. Today, they are more open than ever.

No longer are we seeing private "corner offices" surrounded by other closed off spaces on a building where the higher up in floor number you are, the more powerful your influence is. Today's offices are opening up. In the spirit of collaboration and cooperation, people are interacting in one large open space where ideas can flow and people can talk. Interestingly, as a result we are also seeing a shift in office furniture design. New, modern, streamlined & airy designs are taking precedence over large, dark, bulky wooden installations.

I am excited to see what happens down the road. As buildings continue to pop up around Boston, I am looking forward to seeing the new styles and cultures. This city is evolving and changing in response all of the new dynamic forces that continue to shape the values and expectations of the Modern Bostonian.

Color Meanings

So recently I have become addicted to the site Shelter Pop. It's like HGTV mixed with E!/People Magazine... but online! It's great. I've been learning a lot.

One of my favorite articles is here. I know I have written a lot about color and adding some design pizazz to your space using color (either in the form or paint, or a rug, vases, pillows, etc.). I had no idea that the paint on the walls of your kitchen can either make you hungry or full. It's pretty remarkable that these colors (red or blue) change your appetite. I wonder though, whether I would want a blue kitchen or a red one. I think that the article does a good job of outlining the pros and cons of each.

I wonder what certain colors in other rooms mean for your mood or well being?

Expect a lot of updates in response to Shelter Pop's articles. I am a girl obsessed!


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What's Next for the Old Filene's?

As Boston residents, I know you're dying to know.  We all know about that giant eye sore sitting where the Filene's was in Downtown Crossing. They closed up the half-standing building and now it's just there, ugly and dangerous. I was walking to TJ Maxx recently with a friend and we actually spent a solid 20 minutes talking about what should go there, and speculating as to why nothing is happening. We came to the uneducated conclusion that some builder had just run out of funding and was waiting for more financing. We were pretty much right. The Boston Globe revealed the answers in its article today.  According to the article, it turns out that the sellers, "Vornado, put the property up for sale in late 2010 after the city revoked its permits for a $700 million tower with offices, residences, retail stores, and a hotel. The firm halted construction on the site in the summer of 2008 after it lost its financing during the economic downturn and resulting global credit crisis."

Now they are reluctant to accept offers that are a quarter of the 200 million dollars they spent on the site.  However, once they do decide to accept a much lower offer and take all the losses implied, there are many retailers lined up in the queues waiting to set up shop. According to the article, Target, Whole Foods, Au Bon Pain, Nordstrom Rack, and Filene's itself have all expressed interest in the location.

Personally, I would like to see a Target or a Nordstrom Rack (or both). I think that they blend into the surrounding stores and are thriving in these economic times better than the other options. What would you like to see move in there?

Tornadoes at Home

Recently I posted about the devastating and fatal tornadoes that demolished cities in Oklahoma and four other southern states.

Last night, Massachusetts got its taste of tornadoes, and the damage is unparalleled next to what the Northeast is accustomed to. Again, has a really gripping photo album of some of the destruction, and I am sure that more pictures will surface as we become further and further away from the storms.

Here is a link to the album:

I hope that everyone who has experienced loss at the hands of these tornadoes has the strength to recover and rebuild.

Is it Really Time for Magic-Makers?

Recently I watched a documentary on the History Channel about the dust bowl during the Great Depression, called Black Blizzards. I learned that when a town was desperate enough for rain its officials would gather everyone's last pennies and spend them on self-proclaimed 'rain-makers.' These 'rain-makers' would come to town and use different forms of magic or science claiming that it will bring rain despite the drought. Of course, nothing of what they did actually brought rain. Sometimes the rain-makers and town got lucky, but there is very little, if not nothing, to prove that the relationship between the rain-makers' demonstrations and the rain itself was causal.

However, it is an interesting commentary on human behavior that when there are no obvious solutions to a devastating problem, that magic is called.

We are all aware of the state of the real estate market. While the economy is said to be recovering, people are still arguing that the housing market is uncertain at best. Therefore, it should not come as too large of a surprise to read in The Boston Globe that real estate professionals are starting to turn to witches to bless the houses before trying to sell them.

Personally, I think that it is a wasted effort, it is not witches that will bring back a booming real estate market in this country. What do you think? Is there something to be said for the supernatural?

(Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe)

Read more here, and the photocredit:


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