Posts Tagged ‘homes for sale’

Five FREE Things (or almost free) To Do After an Open House

Summer is a great time to consider buying a home or condo in the greater Arlington MA area, and an Open House is the perfect way to view a home without any pressure from either your Buyer Agent or the Listing Agent. And since it is summer, why not make it even more fun by doing something FREE (or almost free) in the city after the open house?  Who knows, you might just find the house of your dreams AND learn something new about the Boston, MA area.

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  1. Tour the State House: Tours last approximately 30-45 minutes and include an overview of the history and architecture of the State Capitol.  Weekdays from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.  Closed on weekends and holidays. Admission:  FREE
  2. Climb Bunker Hill Monument: Climb the 294 steps to the top of the Monument for great views of Boston.  Daily:  9 am – 5 pm.  Monument closes to climbing at 4:30pm. Admission:  FREE
  3. Visit The Museum of Fine Arts: With approximately 450,000 objects in the collection, there’s always something new on view.  No general admission fee required every WEDNESDAY, 4 pm – 9:45 pm. Admission: Variable
  4. Visit The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston:  Enjoy the stimulation of contemporary culture at their new waterfront location.  No general admission fee required every THURSDAY, 5 pm – 9:00 pm.  Every THURSDAY night
  5. Ride the Ferry: Take the ferry from Long Wharf to the Charlestown Navy Yard to visit the USS Constitution $.70 each way.  Free guided tours of the USS Constitution.

Do you have suggestions of your own for free, or low-cost, things to do in the Boston area?  If so, why not share them here?

To view of a listing of open houses in the Arlington, Cambridge and Boston, MA areas, check out my Trulia.com Open House search and then visit my CyberGreenRealty.com web site for more details on each listing.  Finally, don’t forget to check the latest weather forecast for the area before heading out.

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

Wanna Go Potty?

One of the easiest ways you can start going green is by tackling your toilet. (Not literally, but if you want to, go ahead. Whatever floats your boat!) Every time you flush your toilet, you could be using up to 5 gallons of water (or more if your toilet was built before 1994, when dual flush toilets came into voque). If you’re like most people, you tend to flush the toilet after every use, which can waste up to hundreds of gallons per week based on the size of your household. Depending on your budget and purpose, here are some helpful tips:

Picture of a Neorest toilet

Oh, So Sexy!

  • Fix toilet leaks – You may not even know you have a leaky toilet, but if you do you could be wasting 20 gallons of water per day.  To determine if you have a leak, add some food coloring to the tank and wait about 30 minutes.  If the food coloring appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Watch this quick 2 1/2 minute video on eHow.com to learn how to fix a leaky toilet.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket – I’m just sayin’.
  • Follow the old mantra – Come on, you know it…”If it’s brown, flush…” blah, blah, blah. I hate the saying myself, but it’s still true.  Just try it.
  • Replace your old toilet – If you’re thinking of putting your home up for sale soon, consider replacing the entire toilet, especially if it was built before 1994. At the very least, consider upgrading to a dual flush, if not one of the newer low-flow ones. You won’t believe the variety of new models and styles available today. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  now has a water-efficiency rating system for water-efficient products called the WaterSense labeling plan.  You can also search for just about any make and model toilet at the WaterSense Product Search page.
  • Replace the flapper – You may have a flapper in the tank that’s already adjustable.  Lengthen it just a bit so it closes earlier, using less water per flush.  You can also buy a new flapper for relatively little out-of-pocket expense.  Home Depot always has a variety in stock.
  • Make your own low-flow toilet – This is my favorite tip.  It’s so simple to do with things you already have around the house.  Check this out:

Now how hard is that?!?!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

April 2010 Housing Trends

APRIL-2010 Newsletter Housing Trends eNewsletter


Welcome to the most current Housing Trends eNewsletter. This eNewsletter is specially designed for you, with national and local housing information that you may find useful whether you’re in the market for a home, thinking about selling your home, or just interested in homeowner issues in general.

The Housing Trends eNewsletter contains the latest information from the National Association of REALTORS®, the U.S. Census Bureau and Realtor.org reports, videos, key market indicators and real estate sales statistics, a video message by a nationally recognized economist, maps, mortgage rates and calculators, consumer articles, plus local neighborhood information and more.

Please click here to view the APRIL-2010 Newsletter Housing Trends eNewsletter.

If you are interested in determining the value of your home, click the Home Evaluator link for a free evaluation report.

Rent Some Sun and Save Money

In your mind’s eye, what do you envision a solar panel to look like? Do you think they’re still big, white and boxy? Maybe you think of some ugly black strips across your roof, which look more like a shredded tire laid out flat than a solar panel. Then again, you might be “hip” with the latest PV styles (like these PV panels that look like clay tiles) but you think it’s still too expensive. Fret no more!

Many companies, including two here in Massachusetts (SunRun’s MA partners – Alteris, Inc. and groSolar, Inc), offer you a chance to rent solar panels, effectively locking in your electric rate for up to 25 years (the average lifespan of a solar panel). Moreover, you are relieved of any of the hassles involved with purchasing the panels outright (such as obtaining the proper permits, filing for the appropriate rebates, etc.). Some providers may require a “security deposit,” which may be up to $1,000 at the most.

How does it work? The concept is simple – your solar power company purchases and installs the appropriate equipment based on your historical electric usage. You then pay a monthly rental fee to the solar company, which becomes your new “electric” bill. This monthly fee will be equal to, or lower than, your current bill AND will never rise – sun power is free power! Perhaps best of all, you don’t have to worry about maintenance and repairs – the panels are owned and maintained by the solar company, so they have a vested interest in keeping the equipment in top working order.

In addition to the money saved on your electric bill by switching to solar power, you may also be eligible for one or more of the many current state and federal incentives. Find out if your state offers incentives at SunRun’s Solar State Rebate page. If you purchase locally-made equipment, the incentives and rebates get even bigger!

For further information, check out these helpful resources:

Do you know anyone who’s currently renting solar panels? Ask them to share their story here.

Visit CyberGreenRealty.com for a list of some solar vendors in the greater Boston area. If you happen to be in the market for a new home or condo, you may also wish to visit Avenue 3 Real Estate for a listing of current homes and condos for sale in Arlington, Cambridge, and Somerville, MA. While there, search for homes already equipped with solar equipment and start saving money from Day One!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

What does “building green” mean?

In my conversations with clients who are interested in pursuing green housing options, I frequently find out that people generally have a narrow idea of what “building green” is or what actually makes a building “green.” Making your home or condo “green,” or buying a “green home,” means much more than just using Energy Star-rated appliances and having insulated windows and doors. Outlined here are some of the key elements of what makes a building green (my thanks to Living Structures, Inc. – a green contractor in Jamaica Plain, MA):

  • Operating Energy – measures how much energy is required to heat and cool a house. Some ways to help reduce energy consumption are through the purchase and installation of high-quality, energy-efficient windows and appliances – but also preventing unwanted heat loss by properly insulating the exterior of the building (as well as basement ceilings and attic floors). With new construction, this concept can be taken a step further with proper orientation of the home and windows to take full advantage of the passive heating and cooling effects of the sun and wind.
  • Embodied Energy – measures the amount of energy required to make and deliver all of the components being installed in the home or condo. For example, installing granite countertops made from a local quarry and produced by a local merchant saves more energy than a marble countertop made in Italy and shipped to the U.S. This concept could also encompass materials made through a more energy-efficient process than comparable products. So just by purchasing locally-made products, you’re reducing your carbon footprint!
  • Sustainability – by definition, this means “the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” Think of it this way – driving a car that uses lots of gas is not good because it’s using a non-renewable fuel source (oil), that is then unavailable to our children and grandchildren to use in the future. Using sustainable building products (one of my favorites is bamboo flooring) helps to save resources for future use.
  • Waste Generation – eliminating as much waste as possible from the construction or reconstruction process. Much waste is produced during the construction of a new home or demolition of an existing room or structure. New methods have been designed to eliminate as much of this waste as possible or to reuse as much of the existing material/structure as possible. Hiring a contractor who uses these new waste generation practices can make you really green!
  • Health Effects – a green building is a healthier building. New construction methods make current homes much more air-tight, which also requires the home to have better ventilation processes. Make sure to improve the ventilation of your home as you tighten the building envelope – and use low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints, chemicals, and other construction materials to prevent unhealthy air from getting into the home in the first place. You can even reduce the amount of radon or the chances for mold growth with proper ventilation of your home.
  • Ecological Footprint – this is a measurement of how much land is required to sustain a single person, group of people, or to power a building. This concept was first introduced in a book entitled Our Ecological Footprint: Reducing Human Impact on the Earth. Current research indicates the average U.S. resident requires about 24 acres of productive land to support their lifestyle – but in reality there are only 4.5 acres actually available to each person on Earth. Doing the math, you can see that we can’t continue along our current path without some serious competition for resources.

Implementing these green concepts helps to improve the value of a home or condo, but that doesn’t necessarily imply a higher cost. My previous blog posting outlines some of the rebates and incentives available to consumers for implementing many of these features. Additionally, your local town or city may be offering financial assistance to improve the energy-efficiency of your home or condo. For example, the town of Babylon, NY offers homeowners who are willing to pay $250 for an energy audit, the opportunity to finance the improvements at a below-market rate with a reasonable payback period. Recently, a couple in Babylon had an energy audit completed and they made the recommended upgrades. The amount they now repay to the town is less than the savings on their utility bills, saving them approximately $1,300 per year (New York Times, October 11, 2009).

For more information and other eco-friendly housing options, see my previous blog entries and don’t forget to check out my real estate web site at CyberGreenRealty.com for a listing of eco-friendly partners who can help you achieve your green goals!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

Saving Money with Energy Star

With the heating season quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to pass along some energy-saving tips to help you both indoors and out. Not only can you reduce your energy bill, but you can reduce your carbon footprint by following some simple, easy steps:

  • Energy Star Lighting – Energy Star labeled light bulbs and fixtures are very energy efficient without sacrificing performance or design. Special promotions and rebates are also available at many home improvement and other select stores. You can also visit the Energy Star web site for more information or call 877-378-2748 for more details.
  • Energy Star Refrigerator Rebate – if you’re a Massachusetts resident, NSTAR is offering a $50 mail-in rebate toward the purchase of an Energy Star-qualified refrigerator. For more info on this program, visit the website listed above or call 877-ESTAR-4U.
  • Cool Smart Central Air Conditioning – Now might be a good time to think of having central A/C installed (demand is very low right now!). Did you know that a properly installed Energy Star central air conditioning unit can save you up to 20% on your cooling costs? Think of it as investing for savings next summer! Again, for Massachusetts residents, NSTAR is offering a mail-in rebate of up to $600 for the purchase and installation of high efficiency central air conditioning units. Visit www.mycoolsmart.com or call 800-473-1105 for more information on this program.
  • SmartStrips – Did you know many electrical appliances continue to draw electricity, even when not in active use? SmartStrips power strips sense when the power button turns off TVs and computers and will also automatically cut the power to other devices, such as printers, faxes, and stereo equipment. Neat, huh? Visit www.myenergystar.com for information on instant rebates available toward the purchase of SmartStrips.

These programs are designed to help you reduce your electric bill and help the environment at the same time. Why not give them a try? Visit my web site at Cyber Green Realty.com for more information or check out the following useful links:

Arlington MA Real Estate Update

Week Ending 9/10/09

The average price per square foot for Arlington MA was $283, a decrease of 12% compared to the same time last year. The average sales price for homes, condos, and multi-families in Arlington MA for the period 8/10/09 to 9/10/09 was $411,196 based on 96 home sales. Compared to the same period one year ago, the average home sales price decreased 17%, or $85,260, but the number of home sales increased 71%.

There are currently 41 resale and new homes in Arlington MA (not including bank-owned or pre-foreclosure properties). The average listing price for single family homes for sale in Arlington MA was $589,342 for the week ending Sep 10. The average listing price for condos for sale in Arlington MA was $380,938 and for multi-familes it was $557,770 for the same period. There are currently a total of 108 total properties for sale in Arlington MA (including bank-owned and pre-foreclosure listings), with 52 Single Family homes, 44 Condos, and 12 Multi-family homes currently listed.

If you’ve been on the fence about buying property in Arlington MA, now is a great time to make your move. Prices are lower than last year but the inventory is also lower, which will start to drive prices up. Get in now before it’s too late!

-TMC