Blog :: 05-2016

We're Havin' a Party

The white pants and linen shirts are dusted off, the sunscreen is out, and we're stocked up on those little umbrellas you put in your drink. We are ready for summer. Are you ready for this??

Join us as we celebrate summer and Steve's 30-year anniversary with Bowes Real Estate in STYLE!

When: Saturday, July 30th

Where: The Thoreau Club, Concord. Bring the family for a fun-filled day of activities, or just relax and enjoy the pool and facilities.

Why: To share the celebration of Steve's 30-year anniversary with Bowes Real Estate.

Who: Whether it was 1986 or 2016, the only prerequisite is that you are or were a client of Steve McKenna & The Home Advantage Team.

How: Please RSVP to, to reserve your spot and receive your formal invitation.

Are HGTV Shows Making Buyers Delusional?

Now, we love Fixer Upper, Love It or List It, and Property Brothers like the rest of you. It’s fun to see houses transform before your eyes with all that shiny tile, those gleaming floors, double vanities and walk-in closets. Everything is just so.

Or, is it just soo not possible?

Are Home Buyer Expectations Unrealistic?

Picture the weekend open house scene. Many first-time buyers are coming in fresh off binge-watching Jonathan and Drew, with big dreams of open concepts and freshly landscaped yards.

But the fact of the matter is, in Arlington, and New England in general, while the homes are often very beautiful, most were not built in 2006. Our homes aren’t cookie cutter, they have character. Unfortunately, character can come at a cost in the form of new electrical wiring, basement renos, HVAC systems, and taking down walls.

So, do we think HGTV shows are making buyers delusional? Yes and no.

On the up side, buyers are more likely to see the potential in a home – take down a wall and open it up, expand off the kitchen, update the lighting and fixtures… Buyers have vision, and know that the grand Victorian and mid-century ranch hold many opportunities to customize and make TV-worthy.

On the downside, today’s buyers are busy, with demanding jobs, kids, and unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day to make those updates themselves, or money in the budget to pay someone to do it for them.  Which means they want a home that is move-in ready, with all of the amenities that they see at the end of Fixer Upper.  

Given that we live in an area with low inventory and price points that are higher than the national average (although Arlington is still more affordable than surrounding towns like Lexington, Winchester, and Belmont), this can make finding that perfect home difficult to come by.

Buying a home means hope for better things to come. So go DVR that episode of House Hunters, but remember to keep an open mind, your expectations in check, and a great real estate professional at your side as you fine-tune your home search.


(Speaking of fine-tuning your search – check out our website for popular searches, and easily refine and save based your criteria. Easy breezy.)

Spotlight: Arlington Homes of the Week!


It’s a beautiful day in the (Arlington) neighborhood! See what’s in store this weekend, new listings perfect for the first-time buyer, downsizer, commuter and anyone looking for a fantastic Arlington home.

1 Watermill Place, Unit 226, Arlington  

Open House: Saturday, May 21th, 11:00 – 12:30               

This is an absolutely amazing unit at Watermill Place. You haven't seen one like this before! Beautifully renovated with a fabulous, redesigned kitchen that is open to the dining/living room. The kitchen offers top of the line cabinetry with quartz counter tops and state of the art, stainless steel appliances, recessed lighting and a custom tile floor. The dining/living room,as well as both bedrooms, has beautiful hardwood flooring. The bathrooms were updated and offer tile flooring and new vanities with granite counters. The master bedroom suite has a large walk-in closet and en-suite bathroom. This lovely unit also has a private balcony that has access from the master suite and living room and it overlooks the Minuteman Bike Path. There is one car garage parking and a private storage space. This is a fabulous unit at one of Arlington's most premier buildings. Stop by and be dazzled. This is the unit you have been waiting to see. (MLS #72008176) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $449,000

What’s Nearby: Arlington Center shops and restaurants, public transportation, Mass. Ave., Minuteman Bikeway.


36 Paul Revere Road, Unit 2, Arlington  

Open House: Saturday, May 21st, 1:00 – 2:30                   

Stunning two level duplex is located in Arlington Heights close to Mass. Ave. and all the fabulous shops, the bike path and the buses to Alewife and Harvard Square. This is perfect as for a first time buyer or someone downsizing. Meticulously maintained with some recent renovations, such as the lower level family room and full bathroom. So, just move in and add your personal touches to this affordable duplex-style home and enjoy! There’s a spacious living room that is open to the dining area and kitchen. There is direct access to the rear yard from the kitchen, offering a private patio and yard area, which is perfect for the summer entertaining. The second floor has two spacious bedrooms, an office and a full size bathroom. There are two parking spaces, which includes a 1 car garage. This is a really nice place to call home! (MLS #72008087) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $439,000

What’s Nearby: Arlington Heights shops and restaurants, Minuteman Bikeway, Mass. Ave., public transportation, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks.

Local Home Features That Steal the Show

If you haven't noticed yet, our recent batch of home listings have some pretty cool features that you just don't find everywhere.

That is one of the many bonuses of looking for a home in Arlington - much of the housing stock has retained its charm and history throughout the years, which means we get to stumble upon these gems that give a home personality and reflect a uniqueness that is anything but cookie cutter.

Take a look at a few of these charming characteristics around town:  


53 Academy

11 Jason Street

9 Claremont Ave.

22 Brattle Station

211 Pleasant Street

40 Moulton Road

37 Golden Ave.

It's our 5-Year Blog-a-versary!

Five years ago, Steve McKenna & The Home Advantage Team kicked off a blog both to support the business and to communicate with clients and the community. Our first post, Home is Where the Heart Is, still rings true (just as you wouldn't trust your heart with any doctor, you wouldn't trust your home - one of your most valuable assets - with just any real estate professional).

It's our 5-Year Blog-a-versary!

On the one hand, we have evolved and changed over the years (check us out on YouTube and Insta), on the other, we continue to stick to the tried-and-true by providing a valuable, relevant, and consistent content stream to inform, enlighten and sometimes entertain our community.

Take a trip down memory lane, or as we say these days lets #TBT, and check out some posts you might have missed!

Here are some of our most popular posts from the past 5 years:

1.What Will Be the Next Pink Bathroom? 5/16/12

2.Fifteen Fun Real Estate Facts 11/4/13

3.What’s It Worth vs. What’s Worth It 3/28/14

4.Downsizing: Thinking Big About Living Small 5/20/15

5.Steve McKenna & The Home Advantage Team Named Real Living Real Estate's No. 1 Team in the Country 4/28/16


Plenty more where that came from. Here some more of our popular posts to enlighten and brighten your day! And be sure to visit our blog and subscribe today!

The New Face of the First Time Homebuyer 2/2/12

Newton’s Law of Real Estate  3/26/12

Home Buying Bracketology 3/23/13

Selling a Home with Pets? Read this Furrst. 3/6/13

Top 10 Signs You Call Arlington Home 9/26/14

The Arlington X Factors - A Look at Real Estate in 2015 1/26/15

Not Your Typical Top 20 Arlington 1/9/15

When You Have To Sell First, Buy Next - Tips for Buying & Selling a Home Simultaneously 4/29/15

Now is NOT the Time to Sell Your Home 6/20/15

Home Advantage Team Year in Review 12/31/15

Arlington Storefront Stories 2/9/16

Beyond Stainless Steel and Granite Counter Tops 3/23/16


Spotlight: Arlington Home of the Week!

Imagine the possibilities! Investment opportunities abound with this Brattle Station property. Come check it out on Saturday! 

And a happiest of Mother’s Days to all the moms, grandmas, dads who have to be mom too, and anyone who is like a mom to the people in their life!

22 Brattle Street, Brattle Station, Arlington  

Open House: Saturday, May 7th, 11:00 – 12:30                

Rare opportunity to purchase a 3-family parcel consisting of 2 separate structures. There is a 2 family home with a single residence cottage on site. The 2 family is currently being used as 3 units and the cottage is vacant. All of the tenants would like to remain if possible. Each unit, including the cottage, has separate gas heating and electric meters. The house has been well maintained and has some recent improvements. There is ample on-site parking. The spacious rear yard abuts the brook and makes for a very scenic setting. Income from rents in the multi-family is approximately $52,000 per year. There are many opportunities with this property. Very specific showing times because of the tenants. No other show times are permitted. All lease agreements expire August 31, 2016. (MLS # 71999549) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $825,000

What’s Nearby: Arlington Center shops and restaurants, public transportation, Mass. Ave., Minuteman Bikeway.

The House Hunting Merry-Go-Round

If you are a home buyer in this market, it can sometimes feel like you’re stuck on a merry-go-round with no end in sight. The home search process goes something like this –

1.       Search the online listings for something new that might have popped up.

2.       Schedule a viewing or go to the open house as soon as possible.

3.       Compete with all of the other buyers who have been waiting (and waiting) for the right home to come along.

4.       Either enter a bidding war or walk away.

5.       Round and round you go.

This can leave anyone feeling a little dizzy and nauseous.

The House Hunting Merry-Go-Round

While there are certain things that might be out of your control for now, for example, low inventory and home sellers in the driver’s seat, there are steps you can take to give yourself and edge in how you navigate the home buying process.

Know Why You’re Buying. You're not just buying a home, you're buying into a town, a location and a lifestyle. You wouldn't buy a home simply because 'you loved it,' - you need to look at comparable homes in the area, and decide whether it is a good investment based on market conditions. And vice versa, you also wouldn't buy a home simply because it's a good deal for the area - you need to consider personal preferences such as schools, commute, and whether it is a fit with your financial situation.

 Get Your Finances In Order. This includes understanding your cash-flow, spending habits and contacting a trusted lender to obtain a pre-approval letter. The proper pre-approval or loan program can make you a stronger buyer in the eyes of sellers.

Make a List. Check it twice. Having a clear list of priorities paves the way to knowing where to look, and which homes to look at – and which to pass on. For example, what towns appeal to you and why? Which neighborhood is most desirable? What schools are preferable? Single family or are condos an option? Which amenities are important – restaurants, gym options, daycare? What are your non-negotiable must-have’s – 3 bedrooms, 2 bathroom, yard, etc.

 Understand Timing & Process. Having a thorough understanding of the time it takes to buy a home and the process to get you there is key. If you don't have all of your ducks in a row going into the home buying process, important details could fall through the cracks and jeopardize your odds of getting that home you've always wanted. And as always, time is of the essence, and if it takes you 3-4 days to find an attorney, lender or inspector, it's going to add stress to an already stressful situation.

Don’t Go It Alone. Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions, and financially one of the most expensive purchases, you’ll ever make. You want someone on your side working for you. Our goal as a real estate team is to educate buyers throughout the entire home buying process – soup to nuts. And that includes mapping out a plan that is custom to your needs.

Home buyers, when you are ready to get off the real estate merry-go-round, give us a call. We’ll put a plan together to help you navigate this market and grab that brass ring of houses.