Blog :: 11-2012

Light it Up!

Tomorrow is the first day of December, and maybe the first day where listening to holiday music and doing some shopping feels legit. There are all kinds of reasons to get out and enjoy the holiday spirit in Arlington this weekend. We're passing along just a few to get you started. Enjoy the festivities!

Free Saturday Parking at All Meters Dec 1, 8, 15, 22
On Saturdays, during the holiday shopping season, the Town is allowing free parking at all metered spots in the two municipal parking lots in Arlington Center (Russell Commons lot on Mystic St. and the Rail Road lot on Lamson Way).
Support local businesses this season! December 1st will kick off the following events presented by local business groups. Click on each link for details.
Arlington Center shops and restaurants will have give-aways, discounts and specials this Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
No matter what your traditions might be, the Capitol Square Business Association invites everyone to kick off the holiday season at East Arlington First Lights festivities sponsored by Leader Bank and Cambridge Savings Bank on Saturday, December 1, from 1:00--5:00pm.

Looking for more suggestions? The Arlington Patch has a great selection of gift ideas to take the stress out of holiday shopping. Check these out!


These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Raindrops on Spy Pond

And whiskers at Thorndike Field

Bright copper kettles (at the Jason Russell House)

And warm woolen mittens (from The Orange Hanger)


Brown paper lunches for kids at Dallin

These are a few of my favorite things.  
When the neighbor's dog bites
When dust from the leaf blower debate stings
When I'm feeling sad (about missing the latest show at the Regent Theater)
I just simply remember how great Arlington is, and then I don't feeel sooo bad! 
OK, OK. Laugh with me not at me. So it doesn't exactly rhyme (and I'm no Julie Andrews) but my point is that there is a lot of GOOD in Arlington.  
No single grocery store, coffee shop, school, neighborhood, organization or committee is going to make or break our town. In other words, The collective whole [of Arlington] is greater than the sum of its parts, so said Aristotle
Included in this collective whole of goodness are strong property values. Despite a tough real estate market the past few years, property values in Arlington are holding, if not increasing. And this is GOOD. For example: 
·         An increase in your property's value is an increase in the amount of money you receive when you sell it. (eHow)
·         An increase in the value of a property also can be beneficial if you purchased the property with the help of a mortgage, and decide to sell it within a few years of buying it. (eHow)
·         Property values often increase in relation to a town's desirability.
While yes, it is true that increasing property values means it can be more expensive to buy a home here, don't forget to consider the alternative - decreasing property values.
First, decreasing property values can often result in increasing tax rates. Second, a town that is seen as on the decline attracts less businesses, less commerce, fewer people interested in buying which can result in a decrease in town revenues, spending on town services, and more vacant store fronts, foreclosed properties, etc. This is the extreme, but you get my point.
So here are a few additional resources and amenities that add value to the town and are on our list of favorite things this season (btw, these are just a few! We couldn't possibly list them all, so if we left off your favorite, it doesn't mean we don't love them too). 
·         Minuteman Bikeway
·         Arlington Boys and Girls Club
·         Flora
·         Fidelity House
·         Trader Joe's
·         Great Meadows
·         The Meat House
·         The Arlington School District
·         Lakota Bakery
·        Jimmy's Steer House
In the meantime, maybe the Team and I will grab a guitar and go sing about our favorite Arlington things from atop Robbins Farm Park. It could happen.


You Can't Hang a Smartphone on the Fridge

Sure you can keep track of appointments and birthdays from your phone, but you can't hang a smartphone on the fridge. What you can hang is the YourHomeForSale 2013 Home Entertaining calendar!


Not only do you get to flip through pictures of beautiful homes across the country, but you also get 12 unique recipes, including a pumpkin tart, Dijon-laced mashed potatoes and parsnip, sole saltimbocca and chocolate fruit bark. Who wouldn't want all of this (and more)!? 

Email us today and we'll put you on our mailing list so you don't miss out next year. Plus, we'll send you one of the few remaining calendars for FREE.


Of course if you didn't receive our calendar, you didn't receive our thank you note. As always, know that we appreciate your support and business. 

(Whole)Food for Thought

By now you know that Whole Foods is a-coming to town - which for some is even more exciting than expecting Santa (of course then we can leave him organic gluten free cookies with milk from cows raised without hormones).


We are going to bypass the debate about whether people are happy or sad to see Johnnie's Foodmaster on its way out, or whether Whole Foods is a blessing or a curse to town, and focus on what it means in terms of real estate. 

Coincidentally, Business Insider just covered this topic: If A Starbucks Opens In A New Neighborhood, It's Time To Buy A Home There


It states that towns - particularly those in metro areas - where Starbucks or Wholefoods come in and replace a lesser known or struggling entity are going to see an increase in home values.Arlington is hardly 'in transition, struggling, or neglected,' however, getting the nod from Whole Foods is certainly an economic indicator of sorts that the town is movin' on up.

Here's another article, Whole Foods is Coming? Time to Buy, which says that:


"...the Austin, Texas-based retailer has made a science of putting down roots in urban locations at what often seems to be just the right moment....-- areas that other specialty grocers might have considered unworthy of goat cheese and ostrich eggs... were actually on the verge of a boom that, lo and behold, kicked into high gear as soon as Whole Foods moved in." 

You can bet your aesthetically pleasing produce aisle that Whole Foods doesn't just throw darts at a map when selecting a location for a store. Teams of marketing experts analyze scores of data, comparing purchasing habits, population growth, and demographic make-up before making a decision.


And they are betting that Arlington is a town that will continue to grow and prosper. 

The fact that Whole Foods selected an Arlington neighborhood is something of a celebrity endorsement - remember the Oprah-bump, where Oprah's stamp of approval could turn a little-known product into an instant craze?

Likewise, Whole Foods setting up shop here makes Arlington even more of a draw for potential home buyers, and will in turn increase home values. 

So whether you opt to shop there or not is a personal choice. But either way, your home value will likely benefit from the Whole-Foods-Effect in the long-run.


Spotlight: Arlington Home of the Week, 14 Woodbury Street

Nothing says home-sweet-home like a good Thanksgiving feast!

As you prepare for next Thursday take a moment to think of - or help out - those in need this holiday season. The Arlington Food Pantry is a great local resource that can always use an extra hand or can of food. The Food Pantry is subsidized by donations (both food and money) from the generous residents of Arlington.

This week we have a fantastic new listing with all the fixin's. Check out our latest Spotlight (bring a napkin - you are going drool over this one!).

14 Woodbury Street


Come see this newly constructed Colonial by distinguished builder Brian Callahan. Consisting of approximately 3000 square feet, it offers four/five bedrooms, three full baths, an attached garage, open floor plan, and a great finished third floor that could be a home office or another family room. The first floor has a large kitchen open to dining room and a large family room. Sliding doors open to a paver patio, and the property is located on a dead end street with a gorgeous entry. (MLS #71457683)

What's Nearby:Arlington shops and restaurants, Lexington shops and restaurants, Great Meadows conservation area, public transportation, Minuteman Bikeway.


Scroll down to see other new listings in and around the Arlington area this weekend, and happy house hunting.








91 N Union St. U:91



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27 Temple St.



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14 Woodbury St.



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100 Pleasant St. U:22



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Other (See Remarks)


91 N Union St. U:91



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34 Marathon St.


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2 Family




5 Things to Better-Know-a-Real Estate Team: Wrap-up.

So there you have it. We've dished on some things that you might not have known about Steve, Erika, Mitzi, Donna and Carolyn of The Home Advantage Team.


And while it's true there is no 'I' in 'team' - there is a Home Advantage.
By maximizing the strengths of each individual on The Home Advantage Team we are able to provide a greater depth and breadth of experience for clients throughout the home buying and selling experience. 
If you were going into surgery, of course you would want the best surgeon with the most experience and practical knowledge in his or her field. But wouldn't you also want someone handing over the scalpel? And someone else monitoring vital stats? And yet others prepping and assisting throughout the process? The same theory applies when buying and selling a home - minus the stethoscope.

It's just as we've always said to potential clients, it doesn't cost more to use the number one real estate team, but it could cost you more if you don't.










I love chocolate.


I'm freakishly strong. I can lift 135 pounds from a dead lift.


I love the beach!


I have a dog named Oscar who likes to ride shot-gun.


I hate to shop.


I've never drank coffee.


I've been skydiving.


Every summer, I travel with family and friends to a different major league ballpark.


I have been married for 31 years and have 2 kids.


I have developed a fear of flying and of thunderstorms.


I've never drank liquor (a personal choice - not a religious one!).


My father was born in Portugal, so I am a first generation.


Recently I was part of a flash mob being filmed for HGTV.


I go out once a month with girlfriends of 40+ years.


I have run four marathons - someday I'd like to run a fifth with my daughter.


My wife and I have a cat named Lizzie.


I love country music and own cowboy boots (emerald green).


I played tennis on my high school and college tennis teams.


I have lived in Arlington my whole life and am a 3rd generation Arlingtonian.


I enjoy NPR, The Daily Show, and a good crossword puzzle.


I love to play golf (when I can).


I have a crazy shoe collection (in both style and quantity).


In the summer, my family has lobster traps off the coast of Scituate.


My favorite color is green.


My favorite station on Pandora is Mumford & Sons.



Have You Seen Me?

This week we are shining our Spotlight on the elusive 'For Sale' sign. If you are a buyer looking for a home in Arlington, you're probably already very aware that inventories are very, very low.
"The inventory of existing homes is at its lowest level in seven years, while newly constructed home inventory has hit a 50-year low mark. Falling inventory is causing home prices to shoot up higher and faster than most analysts anticipated."
However, if you are a potential seller, you have a unique opportunity to capitalize on a pool of buyers that are more than ready to make the move.
Little competition + lots of demand can result in multiple bids, a higher price and a faster process.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) is projecting that "mortgage interest rates could inch up almost a full percentage point in the next year."
This means that sellers who are slow to move could miss the boat as increasing mortgage rates could temper home buyers' ability and enthusiasm.

Real Estate Fact Check

There has been a lot of fact checking going on these days, what with election upon us and all. Sites like and FactCheck.orgare a few (although some say the fact checking sites could use some fact checking of their own, but we digress).


Back to real estate.

There is a lot of real estate information out there - a lot. Much of it can seem contradictory, biased, or change on a daily basis - making it a real estate roller coaster ride of information.


A few items have come across our real estate radar that are important for potential home sellers and buyers to be aware of. We will highlight the top three, and do a little fact checking of our own:
1.      3.8% Tax: What's True, What's Not - via REALTOR Mag
Rumors have run amuck around this tidbit of information. When healthcare reform kicked off more than a year ago, there was 3.8% tax presumed to be a real estate tax. While there is a tax, it will only affect 2-3% of homeowners. The net-net is this:
·        "If you are a household with annual income of $250,000 or more and you earn a gain (not sale price) of more than $500,000 on your house (after the $500,000 exclusion), any amount of gain above the exclusion would be plugged into a formula to see if it's taxable."
This is a classic case of 'yes-but.' YES there is a 3.8% tax relating to real estate, BUT it is actually a tax with many conditions that make it irrelevant to 97-98% of the population.
2.      The 20% Down Myth - via Martha Harvey, Mortgage Network
Flashback five years ago and if you had a nice smile and a reliable handshake you could get a mortgage way above your means. We all know how that panned out, and in 2008 banks reacted to the housing crisis by tightening their lending requirements and requiring a 20% down payment in many instances.
However, there are actually many state and federal programs out there that allow people to get a loan and purchase a home without putting the full 20% down. 
Mortgage companies such as Mortgage Network can help you with 5% down, with no PMI under the standard Fannie Mae program. There are many types of low-or-no down payment options. Here are a few, but contacting a mortgage professional can help you consider the option that's best for you.
·         FHA Loans
·         VA Loans
·         MassHousing Loans
·         USDA Loans 
3.      Election Year Jitters - Sean Harbour, Sovereign Bank
It is widely speculated in real estate circles that an election year can make buyers and sellers nervous - causing many to sit it out until post-election. There is also a theory based on the belief that the Federal Reserve Board is under political pressure to keep interest rates stable or lower prior to an election in order to make it more attractive for voters to vote for the incumbent.
According to yet another election year-based theory, mortgage rates tend to drop immediately following a presidential election. Are these theories true? History says no. This chart from Sean Harbour at Sovereign Bank breaks it down:


3 Months Before Election
Election Month


3 Months After Election


6 Months After Election


1972 - RICHARD NIXON (Republican)










1976 - JIMMY CARTER (Democrat)










1980 - RONALD REAGAN (Republican)










1984 - RONALD REAGAN (Republican)










1988 - GEORGE H.W. BUSH (Republican)










1992 - BILL CLINTON (Democrat)










1996 - BILL CLINTON (Democrat)










2000 - GEORGE W. BUSH (Republican)










2004 - GEORGE W. BUSH (Republican)










2008 - BARACK OBAMA (Democrat)










When digesting a lot of confusing information, just do as your mother always told you: Don't believe everything you read, do your homework, and if you have questions: ask.
Don't forget to do your own political fact-checking and vote on Election Day!

5 Things to Better-Know-a-Real Estate Team: Carolyn MacNeill

You've gotten to know 5 Things about Steve, Erika, Mitzi and Donna of The Home Advantage Team - so really you know 20 things, but we'll leave the math to the experts.


You know how professional photographers generally don't like to have their own photos taken? That's why you always see pictures of them with cameras blocking their faces. 

And people who write about other people, places and things generally don't like to write about themselves. Since I can't hide behind my computer (at least not literally, but maybe figuratively?), here goes.

I'm Carolyn MacNeill, the social media manager for The Home Advantage Team, and I'm responsible for managing the blog, Facebook and Twitter. With input from Steve, Erika, Mitzi and Donna, I help promote client listings and communicate the real estate insights and expertise of the team via social media. 

And these are my 5 Things.


5 Things About CAROLYN MACNEILL You Never Thought You'd Want to Know (But Do Now)
·         I hate to shop.
·         I have developed a fear of flying and of thunderstorms.
·         I have run four marathons - someday I'd like to run a fifth with my daughter.
·         I enjoy NPR, The Daily Show, and a good crossword puzzle.
·         My favorite station on Pandora is Mumford & Sons.






Spotlight: Arlington Home of the Week, 112 Decatur Street, Unit 4

As Arlington and much of the eastern seaboard continues to recover from Hurricane Sandy, we see how much our homes mean to us - and how terrible it is to watch so many lose so much.

There are many ways to help people and families who have lost everything in the storm - here are a few options.

Red Cross:

Donate Blood:

Salvation Army:


112Decatur Street, Unit 4

Welcome to Mystic Gardens! This is a quaint 1 bedroom home complete with parking. The unit was freshly painted and the floors were refinished making this a great move-in ready condo! Laundry and ample storage are in the basement. It is conveniently located near Route 16, Whole Foods, Starbucks and the nearly completed DCR bike path. Enjoy biking or walking along the beautiful Mystic River/Alewife Brook. Public transportation is close by. (MLS #71453220)

What's Nearby:Arlington shops and restaurants, Mystic River Path, Mystic River, public transportation, Minuteman Bikeway.



Scroll down to see other new listings in and around the Arlington area this weekend, and happy house hunting.








19 Teresa Circle



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112 Decatur St. U:4



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1 Watermill Pl. U:104



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134 Rawson Rd. U:1



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2/3 Family