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Blog :: 11-2014

Tuesday Tip - 5 Ways to Entertain with Ease During the Holidays

So you just closed on your new house and can't wait to host the holiday celebrations, what a great way to show off your new digs!  But when you're running around the morning of your get together trying to find a gift for the unexpected, last minute guest your sister is bringing while trying to rework the menu to accommodate for the Gluten allergy you forgot about, your inner scrooge is likely to emerge.  Here are 5 tips to help you get through the chaos of entertaining during the holidays.

- It's like the song says, make a list and check it twice.  If you wake up in the middle of the night with a genius gift idea for your hard to shop for Uncle, write it down.  If you're on the treadmill and you think of an obscure ingredient that you CAN NOT forget at the store, write it down.  Keep a note pad with you so you can keep all of your thoughts and plans together in one spot, and at the end of the day organize them into topics or columns.  Once a thought is on paper, let it go and use that vacated real estate in your brain for more important thoughts.

- Once you've made your menu, it's a good idea to identify and pull out the dishes that you'll be serving them on.  That way when the oven timer goes off and your famous dish starts to burn, you're not digging through cupboards trying to find the one platter that is buried beneath every other dish you own.

-Create a natural, and simple table scape using fresh holly, produce or other easy to find, inexpensive items.  You can find inspiration and easy to follow directions on sites like Pinterest.  Name cards are also a good idea, as it prevents confusion and stammering when it's time to sit down.

-Make your out of town guests feel welcome with a small greeting kit containing everything they might need during their stay, plus a few extras like local treats, brochures for local tours, or a book on the history of your town.  This will go a long way with making your guests feel comfortable and at home, and it will also make them more self-sufficient during their stay.

-The last one is most important - delegate!  When someone asks what they can do to help, give them a task, it makes them feel good to contribute and it frees up your time for other things.  Make a list of simple tasks that don't require your direct attention, and don't be afraid to assign chores, like dish duty, to the relatives you're closest to you.

We hope this helps make your holiday hosting a little merrier!


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Tuesday Tip - 10 Ways to Warm up Your Home this Winter

When the cold weather sets in and you spend the majority of your day with a chill in your bones, there's nothing more appealing than a warm, comfortable home after a frigid walk from the T.  So begins the battle between the thermostat and the bank account.  Today's tip for how to Warm Up Your Home This Winter (Without Turning Up The Heat) comes to us from the folks at Yahoo DIY (  They've come up with 10 simple, yet somewhat unconventional ways to keep your heating bill low and your body temperature high.  For more thoughts on how to winterize your home and save money on utility bills, contact our experts at The Charles Realty, 617-236-0353.


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Tuesday Tip - Five Important Things to Consider when Shopping for a Rental

If you don't have a rental horror story you're one of the lucky ones.  Just about everyone has experienced a landlord's unfilled promises of repairs, neighbors that play loud music until 4am, or that peculiar smell that comes out of the heating vent.  So when you're shopping for a rental, what are some of the important things to look out for?  Our experts have put together a quick list to make sure your dream rental doesn't turn into a nightmare.

1. Be hyper-vigilant in your walk through.  Sometimes it's easy to get swept up in granite counter tops, back patios and bay windows, but don't forget about the little things like water pressure, plumbing and fixtures.  When temperatures fall below freezing in December, you're going to want to make sure the heat works well and there is plenty of hot water.

2. Ask about the neighborhood guidelines, including parking rules, snow removal and trash schedules.  Many places in and around Boston have street cleaning, snow removal and other city ordnances that may affect you, so it's important to find out about schedules, protocols for weather situations, etc., particularly if you're new to the area and are unfamiliar with these types of processes.

3. Listen closely for freeway or other road traffic - and remember it will be much louder during rush hour.  Is there a train that runs nearby?  How far away is the closest grocery store or T stop?  These are all things that the landlord might not share with you, but will inevitably impact the comfort of your living environment.

4. If the landlord isn't thorough, and doesn't seem to have a formal process for securing renters, be wary.  Just think, if they don't do their due diligence with you, then they likely don't spend much time taking care of their rental property.  The reference check, credit check and seemingly incessant questioning might seem like a nuisance at the time, but it's a sign that the landlord cares about their home, which likely means they've taken good care of it.  Even better if they're using a broker, as this indicates a commitment to finding good, responsible tenants for a home they clearly care about.

5. Ask the landlord about their maintenance processes, including pest control and major appliances.  Do they have a procedure in place for making repairs, or does it seem like they'll just wing it?  Many landlords have specific vendors that they use while others might have a family member who works as a local handyman.  When the air conditioner sputters and dies on the hottest day in July, it will be good to know that your landlord has a plan in place to fix the problem thoroughly and expeditiously.

There's a lot of competition for good rentals in and around Boston, so when you find a place that seems perfect, it's understandable to feel pressure to get the papers signed.  Make a standard list of questions to take with you on your walk through, and add to it as you notice things around the home.  Making a hasty decision without knowing what exactly you're getting into can cost you big, so be informed, be prepared and most importantly, listen to your gut if something doesn't seem quite right.  For more advice on finding a great rental property in the city, feel free to reach out to our experts at The Charles Realty, 617- 236-0353


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Tuesday Tip - A Must Have Checklist for Home Loan Shopping

Shopping for your dream home is exciting!  Shopping for a mortgage, not so much.  But for most, there is no dream home without a mortgage, and so it begins - the analysis of financials, the gathering of paperwork, the list of questions to ask, and re-ask lenders (ahem, layman's terms please!).  Today's tip, The Ultimate Home Loan Shopping List, comes to us via Trulia (, and features a reference guide for important documents you'll need to bring with you to lender appointments, and critical questions you should ask to secure the best rate.  The author, Rebecca McClay ( gives you all the information you'll need to make shopping for your home loan a less stressful and - dare I say - more enjoyable experience, giving you more time to focus on the fun part - picking out your new home!  For more information about lender comparisons and specific things to know when applying for a condo loan, feel free to reach out to our experts at The Charles Realty, 617-236-0353.


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