Blog :: 12-2012

The Top 10 of '12

As part of tradition (and by 'tradition' I mean this is the second time) we are listing the top 10 YourHomeForSale blog posts of the year. It was interesting to see what bubbled-up as the blog's must-reads, and we have to say - you are an eclectic bunch! Who knew that you all have a penchant for pink bathrooms, micro economics and hurdle rates?

 

Based on our analysis, we understand that you prefer no-nonsense real estate information combined with some whimsy and local flavor. Got it. We'll keep it coming, and we're always open to suggestions, so if there's anything you'd like to see more of (or less of) just let us know! 

From our team to yours, have a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

 

Live: Top 10 health tips for 2012 - Consumer Reports

 

YourHomeForSale Top 10 Posts of 2012

 

"[The] idea of the macro (broad-based) and the micro (hyper-local) goes for a real estate as well."
"Rather than get frustrated, there are a few ways to approach the pink bathroom. One that you might not have considered is to embrace it. That's right - don't be so quick to sink the pink."

 

"Experts have declared that today's hurdle rate is lower than average past property appreciation rates, making Buy vs. Rent the preferred option for prospective homeowners. Why? Because things are looking up." 
"Of course these are just a few of the many features and resources that make Arlington a great place to live. But if you had to pick a favorite Arlington street to call home, which would it be?" 
"Many people who expected to own a home five years ago are still waiting, and during the waiting process, people change - and so do first-time buyer expectations and priorities." 
"...if you're left scratching your head saying, 'what the heck is shadow inventory and what does it mean to me?' we'll shed some light on the shadows." 
"There is a back-to-basics shift happening - whether it's wanting to know where your food comes from, or wanting quality-built homes in communities that keep families together and support networks close." 
"When it comes to homeownership, we consulted local insurance expert, Paul Kent of Rush-Kent Insurance. He provided his insights into some insurance questions that every homeowner - and potential homeowner - should know." 
9.      Put Yourself on the Map, 10/10
"If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this is our infographic of experience and expertise." 
      "The market is picking up, you don't want to delay, your new home is waiting, so get on your way!"

What Would You Have Done With the Old Granville House?

[George] Okay then, I'll throw a rock at the old Granville house.

[Mary] Oh, no, don't! I love that old house. It's full of romance, that old place. I'd like to live in it. -          It's A Wonderful Life
  Anyone who has considered buying an older home with a leaky roof and a newel post knob that just won't stay put has some tough decisions to make. Do you knock it down and start over? Or do you try your best to preserve the past?  
If you look at the geography of aging housing stock in the U.S., Massachusetts has 63% of its housing stock built before 1970 - second only to New York and Rhode Island.
The old Granville house while charming, probably didn't have much closet space, an open floor plan, or A/C (and we know it needed new windows). But original woodwork, hardwood floors and historical attributes hold value that can't be replicated.
Today, it is much more expensive to duplicate the quality of craftsman-style homes of a century ago, which can make it more cost-effective to renovate. Not to mention a rehabbed older home will hold value better than a new one.
Aside from the practical logistics of considering a tear-down vs. a renovation (including the permits, inspections, building codes, historical preservation, construction estimates, and of course - cost)....
What would you have done with the old Granville house?
Would you throw a rock in the window and rebuild? Or cover up cracks in the walls with posters of the South Pacific until you could properly refurbish?

Walk This Way

 

"Today, the most valuable real estate lies in walkable urban locations."
If you consider the topography of Arlington, walkability is at the feet of many of its residents. Much of the Town's commerce, restaurants and shops, including the High School and Middle School, Library, Post Office and Town Hall, reside on Massachusetts. Ave. which runs the length of the town.  Residential communities flank it on either side - putting a good percentage of the population not more than a ½ mile from these and other amenities.

Add the Minuteman Bikeway to the mix and you have a walkable, bikeable, likeable place.

'Walkability' is becoming as important as other sought-after home features such the open floor plan and master bath. The ability to walk to a local store or coffee shop adds value to your home just as good schools, neighborhood parks and public transportation do. 

And not only is walkability good for the value of your home, it's good for all sorts of other reasons. For example:

·         Health: The average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 6-10 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.
·         Environment: 82% of CO2 emissions are from burning fossil fuels.   
·         Finances: Cars are the second largest household expense in the U.S.
·         Home Value: One point of Walk Score is worth up to $3,000 of value for your property.
·         Communities: For every 10 minutes a person spends in a daily car commute, time spent in community activities falls by 10%.6.
*Data from Walkscore.com
I think the value of a walkable neighborhood is summed up best here:
"... where every eight-year-old can walk to a library, every eighty-year-old can walk to a park bench, and every twenty-one-year-old can walk home from a bar. (And where every eighty-year-old can walk home from a bar, too.)" - Walkscore.com
Putting walkability on the list of your dream home must-have's is a step in the right direction.

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.