Blog :: 2012

Back Bay Living- Gut-Renovated Brownstone Home

The Back Bay is one of the most sough-after and desireable neighborhoods in Boston, but it is known for being pricey and it can potentially be difficult to find a home right in the heart of the neighborhood. Right now on the market, however, is a beautiful 1-bedroom apartment, that is entirely gut-renovated in a gorgeous traditional brownstone building.

At $2,500 a month, incuding heat and hot water, this apartment is truly a deal. You can have the prestige of living in a Boston brownstone, with brand new Bosch stainless-steel appliances, granite countertops, and hardwood floors. You could be the first person to live in this brand new home, and still enjoy the touches of tradition with a refurbished fireplace and original moldings.

For more information contact Sarah Glovsky at sarahglovsky@gmail.com or call and leave a voicemail at 617-236-0353.

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Happy Holidays from The Charles Realty

As we enter the last week of 2012 and celebrate the holidays, everyone at The Charles Realty wants to say thank you for a wonderful year.  We've worked closely with many good friends, and built many new relationships this year, and are truly fortunate for all the great things that have come our way in 2012.  We all truly enjoy what we do here and would not want it any other way.

Thank you to everyone for your support for The Charles Realty and we're excited to look to 2013 a promising new year!

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Just bought a place? And thinking of renting it?

For investors or those that are just taking their first steps into the world of investing, there is great opportunity in Boston and the Greater Boston Area. Right now Boston is dying for more rentals, there's even been articles circulating as of late that real estate experts are concerned about a shortage of apartments in the city, and there isn't anything being done about it in the immediate future. For those considering making an investment here in Boston this really is the time.

While inventory for buyers is low, there are still certainly opportunities out there to buy, and there are those gems that make perfect investment buildings. Here at The Charles Realty, Annette just sold 12 Bay State Road, a multi-family home, and it went very quickly, just one sign that the market is hungry for investments, and potential rental buildings.

So if you're interested in buying and renting out your unit or several units, we can help make this transition and help with this whole process. Please to not hesitate to contact The Charles Realty and ask questions! (617) 236-0353

Downtown Crossing is in for some major changes

If you're up on any Boston real estate news, then you're already aware of some major developments happening in the heart of the city. Downtown Crossing is expected to morph into one of the most desirable neighborhoods within the next year and continue on a path to more luxurious living.

To begin with as we've discussed before, there's Millennium Place which is being built very quickly, you can walk by almost anytime of day and find a crew working overtime to get this 15-story luxury building up. This building offers 5 different apartment and condo layouts based on the view and location.  Homes will range in price from $550,000 to $3,500,000 and are not all that far away from hitting the market.  There's no doubt that this building will bring a whole new look to Washington Street, offering the Ritz Carlton, across the street, a little bit of competition.

To compliment Millenium Place is, of course, the most anticipated project Boston has seen in some time, Millennium Towers. This building, from the same developers as Millennium Place, will incorporate elements of the old Filene's building on Washington Street and house not only condos but potential office and retail spaces. At 600ft tall, it is expected to replace the Hancock Tower as the tallest building in New England. With a full underground parking garage and potential for a national chain supermarket to move in the excitement for Millennium Tower is validated. If this project isn't a game changer for Downtown Crossing, then nothing will be.

Now another big change to come to the neighborhood is a Walgreens It's been over a year since Borders closed their doors, and the four story building on the corner of School Street has remained empty, but Walgreens has decided to give CVS some competition and take over this large building. And this isn't going to be your average pharmacy, not at all. This Walgreens will include a sushi-bar and smoothie bar, taking retail and pharmacies to a whole new level.

And finally for the cherry on the top, the city has just hired on a firm to go through with streetscape plans for Downtown Crossing. This includes some fantastic design elements and a friendlier, more modern look for the area. We'll have to wait and watch this all play out in the coming year or so, but it certainly looks like Downtown Crossing will be getting a facelift!

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Low Inventory makes for a Seller's Market

We understand that there's a lot being said about the real estate market these days. Some people say it's on the up and up, others are saying there's a down turn, it's difficult to know where everything stands. But to straighten some facts out, right now is a true seller's market. Homes are selling at or above their listing price, and commanding higher prices than most would expect. The culprit? Low inventory.

Currently there are plenty of buyers looking, filling up open houses and shopping around, but owners seem to be reluctant to sell. With such low inventory, homes are selling quickly and often, as stated above, higher than the listing price.  At The Charles Realty, we've seen well over half our listings in the past year sell in a week or less. We're experiencing the high demand, first hand.

Potential sellers may be holding out, thinking that they'll wait until they believe property values are at their peak, but this approach could fail. If many home owners are looking at the housing market the same way, property values will all drop if everyone decides to list. So the lesson we have here, is that if you're considering selling, don't wait, put your property on the market as soon as possible. It should be a pretty easy process, seeing as homes are moving so quickly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In the spirit of Thanksgiving Day, we wanted to take a moment to remind all of our clients and real estate professionals that we truly are thankful for them. At The Charles Realty we enjoy what we do, after 30 years of serving the Boston area real estate market we're happy to say that we still are proud to be a part of this community.

We wish everyone a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving! Thank you to everyone who has been a part of The Charles Realty!

What you can and can't do to your apartment

Want to dress up your white walls?

Chances are if you've been renting in Boston, then your lease started September 1st.  By now you've settled in and your apartment feels like home, as it should. But there's also a chance you're feeling a bit bored with the white walls and the overall plainness of your space, which is understandable. Unfortunately you're afraid to decorate because you're not sure what you're allowed to alter, can you paint the walls, can you hang up family photos, use thumbtacks, or nails?

You may not be sure what things would be considered "damages" in the eyes of your landlord... but you just can't deal with the dull undecorated apartment.  So the first thing to do to solve your boredom is check your lease. See what you're not allowed to do, and if any of the language is confusing, speak with your landlord and don't be afraid to ask questions. This is one of those cases where it is much better to be safe the sorry.  The last thing you need is to start nailing pictures to the wall and realize when your lease is up that your landlord won't refund your security deposit.

After you've learned what is allowed and what is not allowed, proceed with caution. Don't do anything that would seem excessive. If you can paint your walls then go for it, but it's probably best to not also paint your cabinets. Do exactly what is permitted and nothing more. You just need to be careful.

If you find yourself in the situation where you're not allowed to paint or hang things up, there are alternatives. You can purchase some very affordable adhesive strips that can hold up almost anything if you can't nail, screw, or thumbtack it.  Also don't be afraid of purchasing wall decals. While some decals look like they belong in a dorm room or a children's bedroom other decals can be just what you need to dress up a space.

So if you're beginning to get the decorating itch do some research and then decorate to your heart's content!

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Starter Homes in Boston

Recently Boston.com posted a very brief post ragarding starter homes.  What they didn't address specifically, are starter homes here in Boston. While, they did speak to the more suburban single families homes, that seem to be on the decline, and spoke to the trend of condos on the upswing, Boston is obviously very different.

Decades ago in Boston the modest single family home became a myth. We've become a city of condos and apartments, as most major cities have. There is certainly nothing wrong with this, but it does mean a bit of a sacrifice when it comes to a starter home. The simple fact that property values are so much higher in Boston immediately alters the idea of a true starter home. You won't have that suburban ranch or that cute backyard, that must be accepted whether this is your first home or your tenth home in Boston.

The great opportunity in Boston however is the mortgage rates. While you may not be buying a 3-bedroom condo, purchasing a studio with office space could be a whole lot cheaper than your rent when you're considering this on a monthly basis. If you plan to be in Boston for a while there's nothing wrong with purchasing a smaller place as your starter home and paying far less for your mortgage than you ever would have for a rental.  It's all about weighing your options and considering how long you plan to be in Boston and the money you're willing to spend.

Renting in Boston: Fall and Winter

Right now we know this is a slower time of year for rentals, but there's still several opportunities for you to still find the right home.  The summer, especially in Boston, is the prime time for renting.  This is when students and professors might be looking to make the move to Boston, but right now, students are settled in and the school year is underway. A majority of the city is rented but a few quick tips for those that are still looking to rent in Boston can really make the difference:

1. Keep an open mind- With limited inventory, the EXACT apartment you're looking for can be difficult to come by, but that doesn't mean that there aren't some really great places out there. Consider what your absolute must-haves are, and the things that might be nice, but are not entirely necessary. You may come across an apartment that has almost everything you want along with a few other nice features, that you're willing to sacrifice one or two things on your wish list for. Maybe something like a private balcony is enough of an incentive that you're willing to give up on the extra closet space that you initially wanted. At the same time, don't lose sight of what you want, just understand that there may have to be some give and take.

2. Do your research, know which places are out there for rent. This will give you an  idea of where your expectations should be at. Rents range in Boston, mainly based on location and before calling a rental agent you should have a realistic price range and an understanding of what your price range will get you. Having this understanding can make a world of difference as you continue your search.

3. Move quickly. Apartments are still renting quickly, even with fewer people looking. If you find a place you like, be prepared to fill out all the apps and sign checks immediately. Using the first two suggestions above will allow you to know the right place when you see it. It's all about preparation. Know what you want, have the paperwork necessary, and once you see the right place jump into action. You have very little time to weigh your options, so be sure you know what you want and you're ready to commit.

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Renovating for Sales

Investing in upgrades can always help in regards to selling a home.  We recommend that you definitely discuss possible renovations with an experienced broker---this could increase marketability and the selling power of your home. Correcting deficiencies in your home can make sellers see the property more favorably--and makes them willing to pay a higher price. After all, renovations and upgrades can help to increase the listing price of your home--and that is great for you, especially in a seller's market like Boston, where supply is low and demand is high!

"- Energy efficiency upgrades and/or replacements that will reduce utility bills (i.e.boiler/furnace replacements) or enhance comfort (i.e. insulation). Replacement windows enhance comfort in addition to conserving energy. These improvements make a home's resale more appealing and begin to pay back their cost almost immediately. There are also rebates, tax credits and incentives available from time to time. - Cosmetic upgrades (i.e. paint, siding or hardwood floors) that are often done when ongoing home maintenance is required, but just as often done to personalize the property to the owner's taste. When done as part of the maintenance cycle, some of these projects don't cost as much out of pocket and some of them (i.e. paint or siding) prevent potential damage. - Lifestyle and convenience modifications and additions (i.e. adding bathrooms, closets or living space) often done to better suit the lifestyle or needs of homeowners. These are often big ticket items that might not pay back all of their cost unless they are done to correct a deficiency in the property (i.e. adding a first floor lavatory in certain markets)."

For more info visit: http://www.boston.com/realestate/news/blogs/renow/2012/10/renovation_cost.html

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