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Blog :: 2013

Annette Given makes Top 10 Realtor for June 2013

This summer has been a record-breaking season for everyone here at the Charles Realty.  Our Principal Broker, Annette Given brought in $5,815,000 in closed residential sales for this past June.  Our luxury boutique agency has made a mark on the real estate market in Boston Proper and beyond.  After working in the business for 33 years, she has been able to lead a successful team that has paved the way in Boston real estate.

Boston Top 20 Realtors is an organization that aspires to recognize the hardwork of successful realtors in the Metro Boston area and in surrounding suburbs.  The realtors total sales volumes are collected by a third party, which are then compiled into the top 20 highest grossing realtors.   The following is the goal for the Boston Top 20 organization:

"to celebrate the hard work of local agents by featuring them in a consolidated online resource for consumers, allowing them higher visibility while providing consumers a more personal introduction to talented agents in the Metro Boston area."

We are grateful that a reputable organization, such as the Boston Top 20, exists to recognize hardworking realtors at the current state of the market.

To stay updated on monthly realtor rankings, follow the Boston Top 20 website here!

To learn more about Annette Given, her accomplishments, and the best way to touch base with her, check out her full biography on our website!

4 DIY Home Improvements to Try Before You Move Out

Don't feel like spending your whole weekend with home improvements?  Here are some quick and easy DIY fix-its you can tackle around your home.

Squeaky Door Hinges

Just a little WD-40 can go along way!  Spray a bit on the problem hinges for easing the squeaky noises. Petroleum jelly also does the trick.

Peeling Wallpaper

For those pesky, curled-up corners try smearing a dab of wallpaper paste onto a separate piece of paper. After rubbing the wallpaper paste against the peel, press the wallpaper against the wall. Troublesome bubbles can be smoothed out with a clean cloth!

Tangled Extension Cords

The bane of our high-tech existence, tangled electrical chords.  Plastic buckets are the perfect solution to keeping your extension chords knot-free and at the ready.

Stained Bathtub

Combine equal parts of cream of tartar, baking soda, and a dash of lemon juice to make a paste.  Rub the mixture on with a cloth, let it sit for 30 minutes, then voila!

For Rent: Gorgeous One Bedroom Overlooking Commonwealth Avenue

Even though September is around the corner, we still have apartments available for September 1st. Check out this exclusive rental listing on one of Boston's most coveted streets.

This 1 bedroom, 1 bathroom home offers all of the necessary amenities for a city-dweller. The frontward facing living room boasts hardwood floors, oversized bay windows, working fireplace, and custom built-ins all enclosed in French doors.  Adjacent is the recently renovated chef's kitchen that features gas stove, stainless steel appliances, marble backsplash, and skylight for added natural light. There is no shortage of storage space with custom built-ins throughout the home. The master bedroom is no exception. With elevator access, laundry in the building, and easy accessibility to the best of Back Bay, this is your opportunity to rent!

For more pictures, check out our Pinterest board here!

For showings, feel free to schedule an appointment with one of our stellar rental agents over here!

Numbers Don't Lie

Are you having trouble choosing between buying a home or maneuvering the rental market? Here are the key numbers to consider!

Credit Score

Those three little numbers can play a big role in both buying a home and renting an apartment. According to Zillow's analysis of over 25,000 loan quotes and purchase requests reveals that you need a score of 740 or above to get the best mortgage rates available. If you're looking to rent, you can use your good credit partnered with a steady income as a negotiating tool.

Mortgage Rates

As the job market is improving and the economy is on the rise, mortgage rates are increasing. According to Zillow the average mortgage rate is currently 4.29 percent for a 30-year fixed loan. With the rising rates, buying now ensures the low rates.

Total Cost of Ownership

For home-buyers, it's best to allocate around 25 to 28 percent of your annual income towards paying for your home. Expenses to consider include mortgage payments, insurance, and taxes.

Rental Costs

With climbing rental prices and vacancy rates dipping down to as low as 4.5 percent - according to Rentenna - it's hot rental market with prices to match. It's a general rule of thumb to use 15 to 50 percent of your total income. To keep your budget in check a 40-1 rule is a good rule to consider. For example if your rent is 2,400, your ideal annual income should be around $96,000 (40 x 2,400= 96,000).

Check out this handy dandy Buy vs. Renting Calculator, courtesy of the New York Times
For more resources click here


  1. Jesper on

    Phil, Great video. We have been using for the past 2 years to third party vifrey the authenticity of our reviews and testimonials. They're an all-in-one solution for feedback and testimonials. They have a free service that allows you to create a feedback form that you ask your customers to fill out, then they vifrey the authenticity of the testimonial and present it on your website via their widget or testimonial page, and then they send it to your facebook, twitter, google+, pinterest, etc page.

    Taking Sustainable Living to New Heights

    It seems like more and more people want to jump on the "green homes" bandwagon to either lessen their impact on the environment or to cut down on that electricity bill.  Energy-efficient products have made it into the mainstream.  Apartments and homes are no exception to this trend.  Check out a few of the extreme self-sustainable housing options and how you can get a taste of it in your home.

    It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a "self-sustaining cocoon."  The brainchild of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design's Tanya Shukstelinsky is a fabric micro-home.  This quasi-two dimensional home includes a cozy sleeping area and bathroom amenities directly below.  Sleek design makes this home perfect for city living.

    If the fabric home is a bit too claustrophobic, check out these "moon-cocoons" popping up in LA. On the West Coast, the Valhalla Movement created Eco-domes that provide self-sustaining energy, water, and food for home-dwellers. Infrastructure is created with superadobe, which works with wind, sun, and shade to provide ideal heating for the homes. The Valhalla community is complete with food forests that provide organic food for eco-dome owners.

    Safe to say that these two self-sustaining home options are on the extreme side. If you want to get a little more environmentally friendly without the cocoon, maybe an urban garden is more of your scene. Originally making their mark from the hit show "Shark Tank," Urbio created urban vertical gardens that provide organizational space and streamlined gardening space. With pumice, soil, seeds, and a dream you can grow all of the fresh basil your heart desires.

    Click for more information on self-sustaining cocoons, eco-domes, and urban gardens.


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    Boston vs. Cambridge

    According to, Cambridge beat out Boston for the #1 spot on their countdown of the best Massachusetts spots to call home.  Here is our rundown of Cambridge versus Boston.


    Versatility. Whether you're in the city everyday or commuting out to the suburbs, the location offers easy accessibility to public transportation and major driving routes. You can have all the perks of being a city-dweller without the hustle and bustle of Boston. On top of it all, you have the most distinct dining options and some of the best school systems right at your fingertips.


    Nothing beats living in Massachusetts's largest city. There is a distinct neighborhood for all walks of life (and all budgets) from the up-and-coming South End to the college slums of Allston. Indulge in each neighborhood flavor with endless transportation possibilities. Ranking in the lowest third amongst all Massachusetts communities, the city just falls short of the #1 spot because of the Boston public school system.

    Check out what other Massachusetts places made the Top 25 here.

    Luxury Living on the Waterfront

    Looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of the Boston?  Have you felt hindered by the small range of waterfront real estate in the city?  Is that daily climb over Beacon Hill not satisfying your outdoor sports hunger? Does the thought of 300 square feet micro-apartments make you feel queasy?  Whether you are a hiking enthusiast or a micro-brewery aficionado, Portland Oregon is your perfect West Coast hideaway.

    Lakefront Living just minutes from Portland, Oregon

    This five bedroom, three full baths home is your haven for wide open space.  Newly constructed home that does not sacrifice the quintessential rustic feel of the outdoors.  First floor boasts an open design perfect for entertaining family and friends and hardwood floors throughout.    Open kitchen features recessed lighting, stainless steel appliances, and a gas stove-top engrained in the center island. As if  five bedrooms are not enough, the master suite features clawfoot tub, outdoor shower, and private balcony.  This house has no shortage on space or awe-inspiring lake views.

    Non-stop outdoor fun is yours with a covered porch and patio perfect for enjoying all year round   Bountiful yard space, lakeside cabin, and a private dock are perfect for all types of outdoor fun! You can have resident-only boating and endless lake access right in your own backyard. This lakefront abode offers the luxury and serenity, tucked away from the happenings in Portland Oregon.   Currently on the market for $749,900 listed by our friends at the Realty Trust Group in Portland, Oregon.  For more information, please contact the listing agent Carrie Richardson at

    Check it out here:


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    Summertime, and the move out is easy.

    Moving out is always a daunting task.  Adding the summer heat doesn't ease the process. Despite the heat, summer is one of the busiest seasons for moving.  Complete your transition without breaking a sweat with these tips and tricks.

    Source of photo:

    • Determine who is doing the heavy lifting: Whether you're considering hiring full service movers to DIY, there are tons of options when it comes to moving all of your belongings.  Be sure to consider your budget, household size, and amount of free time.  Contacting family or friends can be a gear resource. Whether they offer a helping hand or the contact information for an A+ moving company, every little bit counts!
    • Take pictures of electronic hook ups:  Setting up cable and internet connection can be a pain the first time, and safe to say that the second time is no better.  Make it easy on yourself by taking pictures of your current electronics set up.  This will give you an exact guide for resetting up your TV and Wifi headache free!
    • Daycare, Daycare, Daycare:  With school out of session, it may be best to have your little ones out of the house while you tackle packing.   Consider local day camps, daycare options, or even reach out to friends about babysitting for the day.  If you have a pet, doggy day care might not be a bad option either.  That way all of your little loved ones won't be overwhelmed by the move-out chaos.
    • No time like the present: With even one months notice about the move, be sure to get started as soon as you can.  If the thought of having cardboard boxes consume your home stresses you out try to complete free change of address or schedule utilities ahead of time at Divvying up your piles into keep, donate, and trash might not be a bad idea either.

    For more tips on how to ease the move check out this article from


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    Revamp Your Porch

    Having a porch in Boston is definitely something to be proud of.  The extra versatile space has the potential to be used for anything from a barbecue haven to a private garden oasis.  Here are some tips to make the most of your porch this summer!

    • Adding a rug is a quick and easy way to tie together the outdoor décor.  Bring the coziness from indoors to every aspect of your home.
    • Take advantage of yard sale season.  Whether you're out in the suburbs or thrift shopping in Central Square, there are plenty of secondhand hidden treasures perfect for both your porch and your wallet.
    • Use fabric made for the outdoors.  Find durable fabrics for your furniture that will withstand anything the summer will throw at it, from grass stains to sangria.
    • Make your own curtains.  Recycle your old favorite blankets, fabrics, or even that impulse buy you know you won't ever wear to create a curtain set unlike any other. Your custom curtains are the perfect way to add extra protection and privacy, while holding together your color pattern.

    • Coordinate a color scheme.  Test out fun popular colors that are "in" this summer including sunshine yellow, refreshing lime, nautical navy, and sky blue.  Incorporate your color theme of choice throughout all of your porch décor.
    • Mix and match furniture.  Spice up your entertainment space with a variation of love seats, whicker chairs, and benches galore.  These conversation pieces will ease your hosting needs.
    • DIY Flower Pots.  Just moving in to your home?  Reuse all of those paint buckets as the ideal potters for your plants.  You can find a paper or fabric pattern of your choice to wrap around the paint bucket to create your custom plant potters.
    • Let the games begin! Simply find your board game of choice and attach the board to the top of a stool.  Your new unique table piece is ready for your next game night.

    Planting an Outdoor Garden in Small Spaces

    The sun is finally making an appearance after a long winter, and once the snow and ice are cleared from your balconies, it may be time to consider using them! Space is limited in Boston, so consider yourself lucky to have an outdoor place to call your own. Now, accentuate it! Creating a simple and elegant balcony or rooftop garden isn't hard to do if you have a little patience and plenty of sun.

    1. Plan your garden. Make a list of your favorite potted plants and flowers and research when they are in season.  Draw a map to scale of your patio or balcony to decide what you will place where. Take consideration for where the sunniest spots are, or what areas receive the most wind. Don't forget to leave room for a few chairs so you can enjoy your garden spot in the sun.
    2. Worried about having a balcony that's too small? Vertical growth is always an option. Consider planting a trellis or building an outdoor shelving unit for potted plants. Hanging pots are also great for smaller areas.
    3. Consider an umbrella or some sort of shade to protect your plants from very hot days with intense sun- added bonus: this can protect you from hot days too!
    4. Use wooden containers for potting. These are the most insulating during the winter and won't crack the way terracotta or plastic would.
    5. Place gravel in the bottom of pots for drainage, and remember to water your plants regularly. Plants in containers dry out more frequently than those placed in natural soil.
    6. Vary your plant selection. Incorporate bushier shrubs if you have an excess of flowers, or use evergreen plants which can add depth to your variety of greenery.
    7. Be careful to not place plants on railings or edges where they are likely to fall during windy days and cause a problem with your neighbors!
    8. Pests and insects are something to be wary of, but be careful using chemicals or pesticides in residential buildings where you could pollute the air.
    9. For food lovers, you may not have space for fruit and vegetable plants, but small herb gardens in pots are a great way to spice up your outdoor garden.
    10. The more space you have, the more you can include! Furniture is always a plus for enjoying your balcony with friends.