Blog :: 06-2012

Spotlight: Arlington Home of the Week, 5 Benjamin Circle, Medford

There is oh-so much going on around town for the Fourth of July - fireworks, festivities, tall ships, and of course, open houses! (we had to put that one in there). Here are a few links to get you started on your Fourth-Fun, plus this week's Spotlight and latest open houses to get you going on your home search!



Oh.CRASH! my. BASH! it's. BANG! the. ZANG! Fourth.WHOOSH! of. BAROOM! July. WHEW!
- Shel Silverstein





This young Colonial in Medford was built in 2003 and sold by the original owners. It offers a modern flair located on a cul-de-sac in very convenient location! A fire-placed family room opens to spacious kitchen with a peninsula breakfast bar, and granite and stainless steel appliances. The sliders open to an outdoor deck that is your own private oasis - with a fenced in yard and above ground heated pool. Upstairs has a master suite with a walk-in closet and private bath, and 4 additional bedrooms. A spacious basement, garage parking, central air, complete the package. This is a great place to call home! (MLS PIN #71403594)


Listed: $499,000


 Scroll down to see other new listings in Arlington this weekend, and happy house hunting!


SINGLE FAMILY


Address

Rooms

Bed

Bath

Style

Price

22 Lennon Rd.

5

2

1f 0h

Other (See Remarks)

$339,900

145 Summer St.

5

3

2f 0h

Ranch

$409,000

7 Mohawk Rd.

8

4

2f 1h

Split Entry

$617,000

24 Fountain Rd.

8

4

3f 0h

Garrison

$675,000

900 Mass. Ave. (front)

8

3

3f 0h

Farmhouse

$715,000

165 Scituate St.

8

4

3f 1h

Colonial

$875,000

106 Woodside Ln.

8

4

2f 1h

Colonial

$897,000


CONDO


Address

Rooms

Bed

Bath

Style

Price

150-152 Madison U:2

5

2

1f 0h

2/3 Family

$274,999

1 Watermill Place U:216

4

2

2f 0h

Mid-Rise

$320,000

900 Mas.  Ave. U:front

8

3

3f 0h

Attached

$715,000


Going the Extra Yard: Q&A With Sickles Landscaping Co.

Lawn care and yard design can be tricky business - from how much to water and when, to what to plant and where. We interviewed Steve Sickles of Sickles Landscaping Co. to fill you in on the who, what, where, why and how of growing - and keeping - a healthy yard looking good. Read what he has to say about:

·         The leaf-blower ban
·         The #1 secret for a healthy lawn
·         The coolest project he's worked on
This is high season for landscapers - how has business been this year so far?  

Being a seasonal business, you have to be prepared to ramp up from 0-to-60 really fast. Winter is relatively quiet and then all of a sudden we're flying. The phone usually starts ringing mid-March, and all it takes is one nice day in April and the phone is off the hook. Birds start singing and the phone starts ringing!

 

I have been in this business for more than 25 years and there is an art to satisfying the regular client base while also growing the business with new clients. We must keep the right amount of staff and equipment on hand, and also be flexible enough to adjust for the weather. Mother Nature is not always a good business partner!

Our goal through it all is to keep every one of our clients happy.  

 

Arlington is known as an eco-friendly community - are you getting more requests for 'green' landscaping practices?

About 10 years ago I started hearing more about the green movement. I do see more requests for fertilizers that are more environmentally friendly, organic lawn food, and grass varieties that require less water and/or fertilizer. I would say I had a small surge in green requests about five years ago, but it has leveled off a bit since then. I think 'green' has become very commercialized, and green marketing has made it confusing for consumers to understand what is truly beneficial to the environment, and what is false advertising.

 

How much do you rely on local resources when selecting plants, flowers and other resources?

Almost 100%. My main supplier for compost and mulch is Lalicata Landscape Products in Arlington. Wagon Wheel Nursery, and Shemin Nursery in Lexington are also included in my top go-to businesses. What's your number one secret for helping clients maintain a lush lawn?

 

The number one secret is water, water, water. You really need to water about two-to-three times per week, or about an inch of water per week. Set a timer if you have one for early morning - anytime between 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. is perfect. And you don't want to water at night because if the blades of the grass stay wet at night the lawn can develop a fungus.

And because so many people struggle with their lawns, what are secrets two and three?

 

Proper maintenance. You have to remember that your lawn is a living thing - it needs food, water, sunlight and oxygen. The lawn should be cut once a week - but not too short or it will just dry out. If you're not interested in a lot of fertilizing, you should at least apply a spring and fall fertilization, plus an application of Lime in the fall is important.

To sum it up: Water, maintenance and fertilizing are the most important components for a healthy lawn.

 

What's the first question you ask clients to determine their landscape style?

My clients aren't shy - they usually tell me!  After they tell me what they're interested in, I guide them through the options that would work best for their home. House style is important, as is what's fitting to the neighborhood. But at the end of the day, it is the customer's decision.

 

What are the biggest factors that go into deciding the overall landscape layout?

Again, it goes back to the house structure itself. Whether it's a Bungalow or a Colonial, a one-story or two-story - house style sets the stage for the surrounding landscape.

 

First, I look up. I look to the canopy of the trees to see whether there is shade or lack of shade - with particular considerations for summer shade situations.

Next, I look at the grades of the land. I do not encourage changing the grade of the land unless there are existing drainage issues - otherwise you can open a can of worms.  Ledge is also a consideration in Arlington, including soil conditions.

 

Finally, budget. Customers really need to determine their budget not only for the plantings, lawn, and design, but for the maintenance and care long-term. If you're going to maintain the yard yourself, be sure to budget for time. If not, be sure to budget for a yard-care service.

Given the attention it's been getting in town, we have to ask: What's your take on the leaf-blower ban?

 

This is a huge debate in town. I'm a member of the landscapers group in Arlington that's trying to overturn the ban. I understand there are many reasons for the proposed ban, but this isn't just about noise. This is, and has been, my livelihood for more 25 years.

Someone in a town meeting said, "10 minutes of raking is good for mind and soul." I think sometimes people forget that we're not a bunch of kids running around with some lawnmowers. We are no different than sales representatives, accountants, retail staff, or anyone else that provides a service. We are professionals trying to run a business and we need the tools that will allow us to do the best job possible, and give our customers the fastest, most efficient service.

 

Should we tell the pizza shops in town that they need to go back to mixing dough by hand because the electric mixers were too loud? Or, should we tell the farmers to go back to horse and plow because the tractors are too loud?

There is not a huge profit in landscaping. It is hard labor and we work within very tight margins. We always leave a yard - and the street - cleaner than when we found it.  Going back to brooms would make this near impossible. I hate the thought of passing along the costs of clean-up to customers. I have a lot of long-time customers - many elderly - and some who are on the brink of not being able to afford services. This will not only impact those people, but the people on their street and neighborhood if they are not able to physically keep up with their yards.

 

And on a side note, I find it interesting that gas blowers will be allowed on town-owned property. I'm not sure Arlington residents realize this affects them, too, as they will not be allowed to use a gas blower on their own property. It just doesn't seem fair.

Of course many people are asking, "What's next?" No chainsaws? No gas powered lawn mowers? No tractors? We should all step back and think about the possible snowball effect that could take place if we start down this path.

 

What's the coolest or most unique project you have worked on?

About 20 years ago in Maynard we built an exercise trail, or 'fit course,' through the woods a on a 20-acre piece of property. We worked all through the winter on 13 or 14 stations, and we did it all by hand.

 

We cut trees and cleared the path, we dug all the 4 foot holes for each of the stations, we mixed the cement by hand, brought in the water by hand, put the wood chips down through the woods, graded an embankment by a pond and built steps.  It was tough work, but it was fun -- and it was a nice way to spend time working through the winter.

Steve Sickles

Sickles Landscaping Co.
781-641-4357

Construction Update: What's Sold and What's New

We've had lots of activity in new construction around the area, and we're filling you in on these and other developments. First, we are pleased to let you know that Summer Hill Circle has sold out and the final unit will close at the end of the month - congrats to all of the new owners and enjoy your Summer kick-off!



Summer Hill Circle - a Ruping Companies project - was chronicled throughout the construction project from start to finish. We shared the 'before' and 'after' photos, giving you an insider's look at what goes into the planning, development and finalization of a new construction project.

If you missed out on Summer Hill Circle, fear not. We have many more new construction projects in the works.


One that we are really excited about is coming up in Burlington. Burlington is becoming a mecca for savvy folks that want the benefits of high-end shopping and restaurants without the hassle of commuting to Boston. The Middlesex Mall and recent additions to the Burlington Mall are supporting a thriving community - adding ease and convenience without sacrificing style and independence.


Symes Development will begin a new project on Muller Road called Holly Glen in Burlington beginning this July. The site will consist of 33 single-family homes designed for active adults. A majority of the houses will have first-floor master bedroom suites in the 1900-2600 square foot range. This is a community that will be convenient yet private, and support an independent and active lifestyle. Holly Glen is an incredibly quiet location, yet within one mile to dining, shopping, Route 128, Lexington Center, and an easy commute to Cambridge and Boston.
Site for Holly Glen in Burlington, MA.

We will be providing ongoing updates with the progress of Holly Glen as the project begins. If you have questions or would like more information regarding this development, please contact me anytime: steve@yourhomeforsale.com, 781.645.0505.

Spotlight: Arlington Home of the Week, 15 Osceola Path

It has been hot, hot, hot! Did you know the Arlington Res is one of the top places to cool down in Massachusetts? And it is officially open for the season! Did you also know that not far up the road is this new home for sale? This is a hot listing in a cool town!




This is a wonderful custom built multi-level home being sold by the original family! Situated on a cul-de-sac, this home has lots of privacy. Numerous windows allow pools of natural light to stream throughout the home. It features 3 beds upstairs, and a living room, dining room, family room and kitchen on the main level. The laundry room and home office are a great added bonus! The lower level has additional play room, and tons of storage space. A new roof, new 2 car detached garage, and upgraded electrical make this a must see! (MLS PIN #71399989)

What's Nearby: Arlington shops, Winchester Country Club, Public transportation, Minuteman Bikeway, McClellen Park.


Listed: $809,900


 Scroll down to see other new listings in Arlington this weekend, and happy house hunting!


SINGLE FAMILY


Address

Rooms

Bed

Bath

Style

Price

136 Sylvia St.

7

3

1f 0h

Colonial

$439,000

102 Dow Ave.

7

3

2f 0h

Cape

$489,000

161 Lake St.

8

3

1f 1h

Colonial

$529,900

25 Hathaway Circle

8

3

2f 0h

Raised Ranch

$549,900

15 Princeton St.

7

4

2f 0h

Split Entry

$609,000

47 Lockeland Ave.

9

4

2f 0h

Colonial

$699,000

15 Osceola Path

11

3

3f 0h

Multi-Level

$809,900


CONDO


Address

Rooms

Bed

Bath

Style

Price

7-9 Plymouth Street U:2

6

3

1f 0h

2/3 Family

$344,500

42 Peirce St U:42

8

4

1f 0h

2/3 Family

$399,000

21 Newport St U:2

5

2

1f 0h

2/3 Family

$459,000


MULTI-FAMILY


Address

Rooms

Bed

Bath

Style

Price

30-32 Walnut St.

13

5

2f 1h

2 Family - 2 Units Up/Down

$599,000

Meet the Parents

An estimated 80 million people comprise the category known as 'Gen Y' - people born roughly between 1980 and the early 2000s. Gen Y and real estate have been on the outs lately, mostly because of difficult job and housing markets - a double whammy that has forced many to move back home with their parents.

 But as the real estate ship rights itself and the job market steadies, Gen Y is more ready, willing and able to join the ranks of homeowners than ever before. Trulia shows people between the ages of 18-34 still believe in the concept of home ownership, and 65% of those surveyed said "their American Dream includes owning a home." Gen Y is also a group that is known to be defined by their Boomer "helicopter" parents. Certainly not every Boomer is a helicopter, and not every Y is defined by their parents. But Gen Y is more likely to seek the input of their parents for major decisions - like buying a home - than previous generations.

So, is this a bad thing? Not always. Gen Y can benefit from parents' insight to gain experience where they have little or none - asking for advice from someone you know and trust who has bought or sold a home it before is only natural. But they are also a group that knows what it wants, and it's not necessarily what their parents had.  

 

For example, today's younger buyers are looking for walkability (one-third are willing to pay for the ability to walk), outdoor space but less lawn, open floor-plans, and less formality. They are not interested in bigger cookie-cutter homes of their parents that are far from amenities and expensive to maintain.   Many real estate professionals wince when they hear buyers say, "I'd like you to meet my parents!" This usually occurs at the time of the home inspection, but often before that. Some real estate professionals fear parents will instill doubt in their children's decision or derail a sale for reasons that do not align with the buyer's true vision. Generally speaking, I find that parents are a sounding board for their children - they ask a lot of questions (which is a good thing), sometimes they disagree with their kids, but mostly they are there for support - and maybe give a gentle kick to encourage their kids to leave the nest and settle into a nest of their own.

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    Spotlight: Arlington Homes of the Week, 83 Scituate Street, 82 Ridge Street

    Arlington is hopping this weekend! You have the Feast of the Eastthis Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. in East Arlington's Capitol SquareThen Sunday is Father's Day, and why not celebrate Dad at Menotomy Rocks Park Field Day from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., withgames, races, a scavenger hunt a sing-along, and more. And of course don't forget to stop by these homes of the week and see what's cooking in Arlington real estate!



    The older I get, the smarter my father seems to get. -- Tim Russert, Big Russ and Me

    83 Scituate Street



    Built in 1931, this single-family Colonial has both charm & modern conveniences. Just a short walk to Brackett School and park, you will enjoy the updated kitchen w/ new appliances, fireplaced living room w/ beamed ceilings, sunny front room, and dining room w/ a built-in corner cabinet. Upstairs are 3 spacious beds, 2 ½ baths, and a recent renovation that includes the master bedroom with full bath. A finished basement, detached garage, front porch & back deck make this home a neighborhood gem! (MLS PIN #71397299)


    What's Nearby: Arlington shops, Robbins Farm Park, Public transportation, Minuteman Bikeway, Brackett School.



    Listed: $689,000

    82 Ridge Street (price adjustment)


    Don't let this one be the one that got away! Completely renovated in 2004, this home is just like new providing a very open and contemporary style floor plan which allows beautiful sunlight to stream into every room. A short walk to Bishop School and Arlington Center, this spacious 9 room home is just wonderful with a fantastic first floor and kitchen that is perfect for entertaining with doors opening to a private rear deck and yard. The master suite is just amazing, and there are 3 additional bedrooms, 3 full baths and lots of closets. Just move right in and enjoy! (MLS Number: 71355472)


    What's Nearby: Arlington Center shops, Public Transportation, Bike Path, Bishop School.


    Listed: $719,000



     Scroll down to see other new listings in Arlington this weekend, and happy house hunting!

    SINGLE FAMILY



    Address

    Rooms

    Bed

    Bath

    Style

    Price

    22 Reed St.

    9

    4

    1f 1h

    Colonial

    $379,900

    43 Thorndike St.

    6

    3

    1f 0h

    Other

    $449,000

    64 Sunset Rd.

    6

    3

    1f 1h

    Colonial

    $489,000

    10 Udine St.

    7

    3

    1f 1h

    Ranch

    $499,000

    32 Overlook Rd.

    7

    3

    2f 0h

    Bungalow

    $525,000

    143 Waverley St.

    8

    4

    2f 0h

    Cape

    $579,000

    88 Bay State Rd.

    8

    4

    2f 1h

    Colonial

    $799,000

    38 Oldham Rd.

    10

    4

    3f 1h

    Colonial

    $1,059,000

    15 Lincoln St.

    12

    4

    3f 1h

    Victorian

    $1,325,000


    CONDO


    Address

    Rooms

    Bed

    Bath

    Style

    Price

    1 Colonial Village Dr. U:8

    4

    2

    1f 0h

    Other (See Remarks)

    $139,900

    29 Silk St. U:29

    7

    3

    1f 0h

    2/3 Family

    $395,000

    80 Allen St. U:80

    6

    2

    1f 0h

    2/3 Family

    $425,000

    65 Park St. U:65

    7

    3

    2f 0h

    Attached

    $469,000

    Mortgage Rate Mania

    My first mortgage in 1981 was 18.5%. Three years later I thought I was getting a good deal when I refinanced at 12.5%. That's right - 12.5% was a good deal.

     

    Now picture this - December 29th, 2011. The New York Times runs an article titled, "How Low Can Rates Go?" At the time, rates for a 30-year mortgage were pegged at 4.32%.   

    Flash forward six months later to week ending 6/1/12, and the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.75%, down from 3.78% the previous week and 4.55% a year earlier (15 year rates are at 2.87%, and 10 year rates are at about 2.75%). So the big question many people are still asking is this: How much lower will it go now?

    My answer? It doesn't matter!

    The fact is, if you are waiting on mortgage rates to bottom out before making a move to refinance or buy a home you are running the risk of missing the boat altogether.

    We may never see these rates for a long time - if ever. Whether you lock in at 3.75%or 3.70%, you have a good deal and a great opportunity to save money in the long run.

    Back in December, Frank E. Nothaft, the chief economist at Freddie Mac, said:

    "Rates are very much at the bottom.  But... they may start inching up in the second half of the year. If you're planning to refinance, do it sooner rather than later." The second half of the year is upon us and 'sooner' is now. Take a moment to consider this opportunity so you don't regret it later.

    In the words of Crazy Eddie, these interest rates are so low they are practically in-sane.

    *Image via TotalMortgage

     

    But Don't Take Our Word for It... (Part II)

    Some people have quarterly sales numbers to make, stockholders to please, and units-per-day for their business goals and objectives.

     

    Us? We measure our success one happy customer at a time. Each and every testimonial we receive is appreciated and never taken for granted. Here are a few more reasons why we love coming to work every day.....New Home Buyer

    Steve was fantastic to work with on many levels.  He was completely committed to our search, he worked to understand our unique needs and goals, he was incredibly patient and he was always accessible throughout the process.

    Steve's long-time success makes him extremely knowledgeable about the local market and the business.  His industry acumen and understanding of basic psychology provided us with direction and advice that was always spot-on.

    Steve truly became our trusted advisor and I would highly recommend him to anyone buying or selling a home.

    John - Seller on College Ave.

    It was a pleasure working with Steve and his very nice, very competent team of professionals. I could not have picked a better team to work with. I did my due diligence and interviewed five other firms, and selected Steve and his team based on their outstanding reputation in town.

    Not only did they perform a job well done, he also referred me to four professionals to get the house spruced up for sale, and all did excellent work at wonderful prices. Given other constraints we had coming into the deal, the price that we achieved was perfectly satisfactory.

    I look forward to working with Steve and the team on other real estate endeavors in the future. Thanks again.

     

    Dotte - Buyer on Mass. Ave. and Seller on Robbins Road in Arlington

    Steve and Erika were very effective in selling my home. I was a first-time seller, and I was living in my place for nearly forty years.  Steve was clear and informative, and guided me through what can be an overwhelming and emotional process.

     

    Erika was patient, persistent and worked with me closely until I found - and was able to buy - my condo. She kept up with my needs, and set the bar high in order to attain exactly what I was looking for.

    The reassurance I found with Steve and Erika made the process of selling my home and finding a new one much smoother.

    Spotlight: Arlington Homes of the Week, 68 Randolph Street

    Homeownership and barbecues go hand-in-hand. The barbecue (also referred to as Barbeque, BBQ and Bar-B-Que) is a thing (a Weber), an event (backyard party), and a preparation method (Sweet Baby Ray's).


    Barbecues inspire competitions across regions and bring neighborhoods together. This weekend, check out some open houses and imagine what a barbecue (noun or verb) would look like in your new backyard.




    Bring your camera! This is a picturesque colonial near East Arlington, Minuteman Bikeway, public transportation, shops, and restaurants - giving it a walk score of 86 "Very Walkable!" The first floor features a dining room with bay windows, living room with wood burning fireplace and French doors to the family room. The eat-in-kitchen has a ½ bath and pantry! Gorgeous detailing and moldings can be seen throughout the home. The second floor offers 3 good-size bedrooms and the third floor can be home offices or 2 additional beds. A basement, storage and outdoor shed will provide plenty of room for all of your projects!



    What's Nearby: East Arlington shops, Public transportation, Minuteman Bikeway, Hardy School.


    Listed: $719,000


     Scroll down to see other new listings in Arlington this weekend, and happy house hunting!


    SINGLE FAMILY


    Address

    Rooms

    Bed

    Bath

    Style

    Price

    1 Vista Cir.

    5

    2

    1f 0h

    Ranch

    $385,000

    1 King St.

    6

    3

    1f 1h

    Cape

    $424,900

    88 Park Ave. Ext.

    6

    2

    1f 0h

    Bungalow

    $425,000

    99 North Union St.

    8

    4

    2f 0h

    Cape

    $439,000

    6 Reservoir Rd.

    7

    4

    2f 0h

    Colonial

    $479,000

    12 Harold St.

    8

    4

    2f 1h

    Bungalow

    $579,000

    26 Cherokee Rd.

    8

    3

    2f 0h

    Cape

    $579,900

    107 Thesda St.

    7

    3

    1f 0h

    Ranch

    $689,000


    CONDO


    Address

    Rooms

    Bed

    Bath

    Style

    Price

    995 Mass Ave. U:103

    2

    1

    1f 0h

    Garden

    $190,000

    18 Hamilton Rd. U:206

    3

    1

    1f 0h

    Mid-Rise

    $219,900

    34-34A Fairmont St. U:34

    4

    1

    1f 0h

    2/3Family

    $279,900

    4 Park Street Pl. U:4

    4

    3

    1f 0h

    Half-Duplex

    $299,000

    18 Hamilton Rd.U:208

    5

    2

    1f 0h

    Mid-Rise

    $299,900

    1261 Mass. Ave U:2

    6

    3

    2f 0h

    2/3 Family

    $340,900


    MULTI-FAMILY


    Address

    Rooms

    Bed

    Bath

    Style

    Price

    158-160 Madison Ave.

    10

    5


    2 Family: 2 Up/Down

    $449,000

    67 Bow St.

    7

    3


    2 Family: 2 Up/Down

    $499,000



      Comments

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      Redistricting Realizations Hits Home(owners)

      The great redistricting debate is well underway in Arlington. At this point, those concerned about redistricting have an idea of what's at stake, and an opinion to put them on one side of the fence or the other.  As a real estate professional, I am providing some insight into the debate as it relates to the impact on home values. 

      First, the reasons behind the redistricting boil down to two things: population growth and because the Thompson School received federal funding which requires redistricting. This might address the 'why,' but uncertainty floating around about the implications of these actions has many people asking, 'what now?'  

      One such uncertainty is the belief that the redistricting will negatively impact home values in some districts. I do not think this will be the case. The short-term growing pains of redistricting will far be outweighed by the fact that Arlington has one of steadiest real estate markets outside of Boston.

      While much of the real estate industry is still pulling itself out from under the housing collapse, we are seeing one of the hottest spring markets in years, with multiple offers on almost all of our listings and sale prices going above asking price.

      Arlington has the good fortune of being an incredibly varied community, and Arlington home values do not rest solely on its schools. For example, we have a diverse tax base, many restaurants, businesses - both small and large, public transportation, the Minuteman Bikeway, natural resources such as Spy Pond, Mystic Lake, Great Meadows and the Arlington Reservation, Veteran's Memorial Skating Rink, parks, playgrounds and more. These amenities heavily influence the value of your home.

      Certainly homeowners have valid concerns when it comes to walkability to schools and neighborhood dynamics, but you should feel comfortable and confident knowing you are living in a desirable, growing town with property values that will ultimately benefit from a stronger school system.

      For anyone with concerns about the redistricting as it relates to their home values, I would be happy to provide additional clarification on what it means for your neighborhood and home.