home buyers

Beyond Stainless Steel and Granite Counter Tops

What makes a house a home? Is it the number of bathrooms? Bedrooms? Whether there are stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops? A media room and walk-in closet? Or can it be something more.

30+ years in the real estate business and Steve has seen almost every kind of house there is to see. Everything from the lavishly big, to the small and understated, eccentric and kitschy, to traditional and classic. We also see why people gravitate towards certain homes, and many times it has nothing to do with their checklist of must-have’s. Rather, it’s the nuances of a home that draw people in – and keep them there.

Whether it’s the turn of the century stained glass window, built-in china cabinet with detailed woodwork that you just don’t see anymore, or the surprise sitting nook under the stairs, sometimes the softer sides are what sell a house.

Certainly there is nothing wrong with wanting a stainless steel refrigerator and shiny new granite counter tops (we’re only human after all). As a homebuyer, don’t forget to keep your eyes open to the more subtle details that make a house unique. And home sellers; don’t underestimate those distinctive characteristics and charming features that are potentially bigger selling points than you might think.

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. 

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.)

Summer Real Estate Update

Summer is in full swing and the forecast is sizzling for sellers.

Just the other weekend we had 5 properties listed – every single one sold, every single one had multiple offers and sold for above the asking price. That’s been the normal lately because of the lack of inventory and low interest rates which cause prices to go up. Stabilization will come eventually, but right now it really is a sellers’ marketplace. If you’re a buyer, you need to be proactive and very strategic when looking at houses.

For example:

  • A two-family on Pond View Road in East Arlington had 16 offers.
  • 2 properties in West Medford sold, both with multiple offers.

Buyers are out there on the search, and they’re not alone. They’re seeing the same families and people every weekend looking for something that is just right for them. The best thing to do is to get yourself prepared, get a broker, get preapproved, and start looking as soon as possible.

There are no dog days of summer when it comes to serious real estate in the Boston area. Buyers have invested too much time and energy to stop now. An active spring combined with these market conditions means summer home selling is set to sizzle.

Contact us today (781-645-0505, info@yourhomeforsale.com) for a free and confidential custom market analysis of your home - we'll get you squared away before the September school bell. 

Six Degrees of Steve McKenna

Move over Kevin Bacon, there’s a new theory in town. It rests on the assumption that anyone in Arlington can be linked through their acquaintances to Steve McKenna within six steps.

Think about it. When you’ve lived and worked in Arlington for 30 years, you know a lot of people, including residents, neighbors, businesses, extended families, and industry connections.

Chances are you know someone knows someone who has bought or sold a home with Steve and the team.

A conversation at the Stop n’ Shop might go something like this:

Local A: “I’m looking for someone to replace my roof, you know anyone?”

Local B: “Yes! Steve McKenna helped sell my house two years ago and he has a lot of great connections, I’ll find out.”

Local A: “Oh yeah! Erika helped my sister buy her dream home in April and I see Tracy on the Minuteman Bikeway with Miles all the time.”

“Local B: That’s right! I have a friend who is good friends with Annie at the Medford Boatclub. Totally forgot about that.”

Local A: I will give them a ring!

And so it goes.

Can we link Kevin Bacon to Steve McKenna? We’re working on it. In the meantime, be sure to think of us for you, or your best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's neighbor’s real estate needs.

Everyone Knows Someone Who Knows Steve & The Team


How to Avoid Real Estate FOMO

You know the feeling pretty much anytime you go on Facebook or Instagram – am I missing out? Are people having fun without me?? Did I make the right choice going/not going out tonight? Whether it’s a dinner party, sporting event, restaurant opening, concert, we think we need to be a part of it all because of FOMO.

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) can happen in real estate, too. Is there a new listing? Am I going to lose this opportunity if I don’t go to the open house? People are selling their homes, should I list, too?

Fortunately, Steve McKenna & The Home Advantage Team are FOMO BUSTERS! Here's how to ease your mind in just a few steps:

Home buying and home selling can be stressful enough. Don’t let the fear of missing out add to your anxiety. Rest easy and let our technology and know-how keep you in the real estate loop!

Spotlight: Arlington and Cambridge Homes of the Week!

Something old something new…. We have the best of both worlds for you! Brand new construction in Cambridge is hip, happening and ready for occupancy. A lovely farmhouse-type home in Arlington is charming, elegant and spacious. Both are must-see’s!

Take advantage of another lovely weekend and come out to these open houses!

46 Loomis Street, Unit A, Cambridge  

New construction for sale: 46 Loomis Street, Unit A, Cambridge MA

Open House:

Saturday, October 15th, 11:00 – 12:30

Sunday, October 16th, 11:00-12:30

Beautiful new construction in Cambridge has luxury, style and a location perfectly suited to today’s lifestyle! This extremely spacious two-level townhome has an open concept, fabulous layout and is larger than most S/F homes! The kitchen is beautifully appointed with granite counters and the latest appliances and features, and a slider that opens to a lovely deck and yard. The spacious living room is bright & sunny with beamed ceilings, recessed lighting, gorgeous moldings and a cozy fireplace. Upstairs are three spacious bedrooms, tons of closet space, full bath and a large master suite with sliders that open to your own private deck! A family room in the lower level is one of many bonuses this unique home offers. There is garage parking, and easy access public transportation and the top-rated restaurants and shops of Harvard Square and Belmont Center. Centrally located, this is a rare opportunity to own new construction in sought-after Cambridge! Still time to make some choices! (MLS #72081039) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $985,000

What’s Nearby: Harvard Square, Davis Square, Belmont Center shops and restaurants, public transportation, Alewife Station, Fresh Pond.

28 Draper Ave., Arlington

Single family home for sale: 28 Draper Street, Arlington

Open House: Saturday, October 15th, 11:00 – 12:30             

Sunday, October 16th, 11:00 – 12:30           

This lovingly maintained 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath home is located on a beautifully tree lined street. A charming wrap around porch leads from the front entrance to the back patio. Entering the foyer you notice the high ceilings, all the light, and the ample closet space. A large side staircase, wood burning stove, large windows and high ceilings wow you. There are several stained glass windows that add to the charm of the living room. A spacious dining room has a door leading to the wrap around porch. The kitchen offers endless opportunities for the chef in the family! Upstairs offers 3 beds including the master which boasts a walk-in closet and in-suite bath. Gleaming hardwood floors, lots of built-in shelving, and ample closet space can be found throughout. On the third level you will find another bedroom and play room. A finished basement, C/A, a barn out back, plenty of parking, fenced yard, and close proximity to Arlington Center and Bishop school! What a great place to call home! (MLS # 72071087) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $895,000

What’s Nearby: Arlington and Medford Center shops and restaurants, Mystic Lakes parks and recreation, Bishop School.

Smoke Signals

Whatever your preferred method of communication these days, pay attention to what State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey is trying to tell you.

“What we’ve seen in the past eight to 10 months across the state is that our fatal fires involve homes that have smoke alarms in them, but they are inoperative,’’  said Ostroskey from this article in the Boston Globe.

So the state of Massachusetts is taking action. As of December 1st, a new change in fire safety regulations will require that when homes built before 1975 are sold, they must be equipped with smoke detectors with a 10-year life span.

The details of why and how to obtain these new devices are here.

As we make the seasonal switch from A/C to home heating, and with daylight savings just around the corner, it is an opportune time to spot check all of your systems – furnace, chimneys, carbon monoxide detectors and fire detectors.

It could save a life!

Spotlight: Arlington Homes of the Week!

Your wish is our command! Looking for a fantastic home, custom built with brand new everything? You got it. How about a home with historic details and modern conveniences? Check! These homes are beautiful through-and-through! See you this weekend!

90 Jason Street, Arlington

Open House:

Saturday, October 22nd, 11:00 – 1:00

Sunday, October 23rd, 11:00 – 1:00

See the Video!

Single Family Home For Sale: 90 Jason Street, Arlington

Be prepared for this SPECTACULAR center-entrance Colonial in Jason Heights to take your breath away! Enter through the grand foyer with bridal staircase and be wowed around every corner - charming built-ins, high ceilings, hardwood floors, window seats & detailed moldings are throughout this home. A completely renovated kitchen with high-end appliances, granite counters and plenty of cabinet space tastefully ties-in today’s modern conveniences. With more than 4,200 sq. ft. of living space, 5 beds, & 3 ½ baths you’ll feel anything but cramped, yet the 4 fireplaces will keep you warm & cozy. Upstairs the master suite has a huge walk-in closet and a gorgeous en-suite bath with double sinks and a soaking tub. The third level offers additional living space, office and bath. Enjoy the relaxing front porch, private patio out back, and a 2-car garage. A beautiful home in a perfect location near Menotomy Rocks Park, Arlington Center shops & restaurants, Alewife and public transportation! (MLS #72082711) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $1,395,000

What’s Nearby: Arlington Center shops and restaurants, public transportation, Minuteman Bikeway, Menotomy Rocks Park, Jason Heights neighborhood.

71 Dothan Street, Arlington

Single Family Home for Sale: 71 Dothan Street, Arlington MA

Quality craftsmanship and custom features. Get your check-list ready and make sure you see this custom built Colonial offering a lovely rear yard perfect for barbecues, gardening and tossing the ball around. Where to begin on your check-list? Open floor plan on the main level with spacious living room offering a fireplace and recessed lighting with a formal dining room –YES! Custom designed kitchen overlooking the rear yard with an oversized island and state of the art appliances – YES! Terrific mud room adjacent to the garage and side entrance with custom built-ins and bench- YES! 4 spacious bedrooms with your choice of 2 fabulous master bedrooms suites and a total of 3.5 baths–YES! Central air conditioning –YES! Private rear deck –YES! Move in for the holidays –YES. (MLS # 72083932) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $1,100,000

What’s Nearby: Arlington shops and restaurants, Minuteman Bikeway, McClennen Park.

Steve McKenna & The Haunted Home Advantage Team

You already know the go-to real estate team in Arlington and the Greater Boston area, but did you know they have entered a new market just in time for Halloween?

Steve McKenna & The Haunted Home Advantage Team are specializing in spooktacular home buying and selling!

What makes a great home this time of year? Plenty of ghouls, ghosts and goblins can really get you in the spirit. Don’t forget banging chains, creaking stairs, spacious closets with their own bogeymen – these are just some of the must-have amenities homebuyers seek out around October 31st.

Stainless steel appliances with cast-iron cauldrons are phantasmic for entertaining and making witches brew. And note that meticulously landscaped yards are out - Halloween buyers prefer yards that are super natural.

Haunted home buyers, we have plenty of options that will cast a spell on you. And if you’re thinking of selling but the thought turns you into a zombie, contact us today. We’ll help make your home boo-tiful and ready to sell in no time!

Happy house haunting!