real estate

Buyer Seminar: Top Takeaways

Recently, The Home Advantage Team hosted a seminar 'From Buyer Beware to Buyer Prepared' at Retro Burger in Arlington. It was a fantastic evening with a great turnout and lively discussion.

Buyer attendees had questions and our experts in real estate, mortgage lending and real estate law had answers - and we're going to share these insights with you.


If we had to sum up the session in two words it would be these: Process and timing. Process and timing are two key components to buying a home, but they're also the most complex and difficult to understand.

The process of buying a home can seem like a daunting task - in most cases it is and even more so in today's crazy real estate market of low inventory. It is more important than ever for buyers to see the big picture, and then break it down step by step.

This means having a thorough understanding of the home buying process and having a clear list of priorities (What town to you want to live in? Which neighborhood is most desirable? What schools are preferable? Why type of home? Which amenities? etc.). This must goes hand-in-hand with an understanding what needs to happen in order to buy a home (schedule open houses, structure the offer, plan financing, arrange for an inspection, understand contingencies, prepare for closing, etc.). And that's just the tip of the iceberg!

Understandably, buyers don't often have answers to these questions. If they're going it alone or working with a real estate professional that is not from the area, it will be very difficult to get a grasp of aligning your preferences with the sequence of events that also need to happen.

Timing is right up there with process. 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. Time is of the essence, and if it takes you take 3-4 days to find an attorney, lender or inspector, it's going to add stress to an already stressful situation. A good real estate team has relationships with people they already know and trust, which minimizes surprises and speeds the process along.

Our goal as a real estate team is to educate buyers throughout the entire home buying process - soup to nuts. We understand that you're not just buying a home, you're buying into a town, a location and a lifestyle. As the #1 real estate team in Arlington, we move more home buyers from beware, to prepared, and into their new home than any other team in town.

If you are thinking of buying, contact us today and we'll put you on the right track to buying your next home.

**Be sure to get on our mailing list to attend our next buyer seminar! (email:**

Weather and Real Estate Poised to Heat Up

Sure it doesn't feel like it now (then again it's been so cold we can't feel much), but spring will come - and faster than you think.

According to Weather Wisdom on, "....[in] 1969 there was 30 inches of snow on the ground in Worcester on the first of March. Even with 7 inches of new snow during the month, there was only 1 inch left when April began."

Hope springs eternal.


Things are going to move quickly this spring - both in terms of the weather and real estate. Arlington and Medford in particular are poised to heat up as the temperature rises.

These towns are like two long-time best friends that are welcoming, easy going and fun to be around.

To start, they are both accessible with multiple modes of public transportation, close to Boston, walkable with many shops and restaurants, have plenty of parks, open space and good schools, and they're still relatively more affordable than neighboring towns of Cambridge, Lexington, Winchester and Belmont.

Among other pluses, Arlington recently reported a 25% drop in crimes from 2014. And if you're a seller, a Banker and Tradesman Report found that "...Arlington might be the only town in Massachusetts where when 100 percent of the inventory goes under agreement...." Those are some pretty compelling statistics.

Right next door, Medford is a hip place to call home. "After Somerville, where 43 percent of the population is in the age range of 20 to 34, the highest concentrations of millennials are in Waltham at 31 percent, and Medford and Brookline at 29 percent..." according to a article. If you wish that you could be like the cool kids, Medford is where you'll find them.

If you've had cold feet about buying or selling a home this winter, there are plenty of reasons to turn up the heat on your real estate plans.


*image via: Wikimedia Commons

Top 5 Signs You Have the Wrong Real Estate Professional

Congratulations. You have decided it's time to sell your home. There's a lot to think about of course, and as you begin your foray into the land of for sale signs, there are a few things to consider when choose a real estate professional to help you along the way.

Just as it's important to know what you want, it's equally as important to know what you don't want. If you going to work with a real estate professional, these are a few red flags that should be on your radar.

5. They Don't Return Your Calls. This is the basic of the basic. If a real estate professional cannot return your call in a timely manner with relevant information, then don't expect much when the going gets tough (negotiations, paperwork, scheduling, follow-up, marketing, etc.).

4. They Oversell Their Skill Sets. The proof is in the pudding. If a real estate professional claims they are client-focused and 'the best around' they better back it up with proof and action. But this is also where you need to do your homework. Thoroughly research every real estate agent you are considering and be sure they can deliver on their promises.

3. They Offer a 'Lower' Commission. You get what you pay for.  Sure you could go with a friend, relative or someone who claims to offer a lower commission than the competition. But marketing and selling a home properly costs money, skimp upfront and you'll pay for it in the end. As we say, it doesn't cost more to use Steve McKenna & The Home Advantage Team, but it could cost you if you don't.

2. They 'Yes' You. You know what we're talking about. 'Yes! Your house is perfect!' 'Yes! We can sell your house for that high price!' 'Yes! You can skip the cleaning and staging. It's no big deal!' Real estate professionals are not there to tell you what you want to hear. They're there to tell you want you need to hear in order to sell your house quickly and for the highest price.

1. They Don't Have a Plan for YOU. Selling a home is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Each home must be considered individually when it comes to marketing, pricing and attracting buyers. A real estate agent must be able to fine-tune their strategy to fit your needs and timeframe specifically.

Wrong Real Estate Professional


Image via: natalipopova2011, DollarPhotoClub

Now Is NOT the Time to Sell Your Home!

What's that now? Low interest rates, low inventory, little competition.... If you follow anything about real estate you know that there has probably never been a better time to sell your home - or has there?

Just take a look at a few headlines from the past five years. According to some industry experts, every year has been a great year to sell your home, even though economic and market conditions have changed drastically.

2010: 13 Reasons You Should Sell Your House Now Before It's Too Late - Business Insider

2011: Selling Your House? 5 Reasons To Do It NOW! - Keeping Current Matters

2012: 5 Reasons to Sell Now - Keeping Current Matters

2013: The Case For Selling Your House Now - Business Insider (w/ Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff)

2014: This is the year to sell your home - MarketWatch

It can be difficult to discern what is fact or fiction, real or imagined when it comes to real estate information. Do the national headlines apply to me? Should I panic? Should I wait? What's a potential home seller to do...

So are they wrong? (yes). Or are they right? (yes). Say what now?

The fact of the matter is, there are always going to be pros and cons when it comes to the timing of selling your home. When the real estate market was still slogging out of the recession in 2010, you might not get the highest price for your home, but you knew you could find one fairly easily and for a decent price. Now, the opposite is true. Home values have skyrocketed, meaning you'll likely get a great price for your home, but you might have more of a challenge finding one to move in to.

Just because people are telling you that now is a great time to sell your home doesn't mean that it's a great time for YOU to sell YOUR home.

A great first step to figuring it all out is with a comparative market analysis (CMA). But that's just the tip of the iceberg. Working with a professional real estate team that has helped thousands of people work through the process of how to sell their home - and when - is invaluable.

Anyone can tell you what you want to hear, but when it comes to making one of the biggest decisions of your life, you want someone who is honest enough to tell you what you need to hear - and experienced enough to help you successfully navigate the entire home selling process.



Image via: blankstock, DollarPhotoClub

That East Coast/West Coast Thing

We love to make comparisons with our west coast counterparts. Whether its coffee (Dunks vs. Starbucks), sports (Sox vs. Giants), or schools (MIT vs. Stanford) there's a continual questioning (validating?) of us vs. them.

Post_ECWCPGGB2Why should real estate be any different?

This article, The Biggest Problem With San Francisco's Rent Crisis. The Suburbs. from caught our questioning/validating eye.

As much as we like to think we're different, the San Francisco area and the Boston area have many similarities when it comes to real estate. For one thing there is the ocean. Since you can't build houses on water we are both geographically restricted in terms of buildable areas. Places like Denver and Dallas can sprawl until their heart's content, but our geographic area is forcibly dense, causing rents and home values of those closest to the city to skyrocket faster and higher.

"A forward-thinking planner might have conceived of the region as three high-density nodes of housing and jobs, in San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland, with quiet bedroom communities strung like beads along commuter rail lines and highways."

Sounds familiar. Our Boston, Cambridge, Somerville to their San Francisco, San Jose. Geographically similar, bursting with intellectual capital, and off-the-charts real estate again make it seem as if we're more alike than different. Not to mention we have that 'bikeability' thing in common - according to this study, San Francisco has a bike score of 70, Boston 68.

"With homes and jobs closer together, commutes get shorter, easing the weight on the region's sagging transportation infrastructure. With better incentives to allow more construction, cities might start building enough housing to bite into the monthly rent increases."

When people live in and/or near the cities in which they work, there is more ownership, activism, and involvement than in the cities and towns where the lights go out when commuters leave. Arlington is a great example. As a densely populated town that enjoys many benefits of being close to Boston and public transportation, it also has a thriving business community of its own that makes it vibrant place to live and work. We also have our own likeable, bikeable Minuteman Bikeway and plans underway to make Mass. Ave. more bike-friendly. It's no wonder that there are so many transplants from the west coast that choose to settle in our area. Maybe there's something about a place that reminds you of home?

While we may never see eye-to-eye on whether a Venti Latte is better than a Medium Iced Regular (it's not), we can agree that there are similarities that make each of these areas great places to live.

Interested in new construction? Arlington has a number of new projects on the way. You can check them out here.



Images via: danmorgan12, Oleksandr Dibrova, DollarPhotoClub

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


Home Sellers: Opt-in.

So maybe it’s been a while since you purchased your home in the Arlington area.  Maybe you’ve had thoughts of selling but you’ve heard about the low inventory, the competitive market among buyers, the frustration in finding a new home, and you’re opting to wait and see.

You’re not alone. Like many of our clients, you’ve thought about selling, but you’re concerned about finding a home to move in to. We understand. We’ve helped them and we can help you, too.

As a home seller in Greater Boston, you have many options – a strong market, low interest rates and one of the best real estate teams around, to start.

Opting in to the home selling process is the first step towards realizing what the sale of your home means to your future.

The second step is to contact us for a Current Market Analysis (CMA) of your home. The CMA will give you insight on the value of your home, potential expenses, the best timeline as well as a comprehensive overview of the market conditions.

It’s up to you to opt-in and move forward. We’re ready when you are.

Spotlight: Arlington Homes of the Week!

You’ve been hearing about the low inventory levels for some time now, but we have listings to refresh your weekend open house schedule. We have four fabulous listings in Arlington – a wonderful suburban single family home to a not-your-average condo that is a walkable wonderful place to live. Check them out!

Don’t forget Feast of the East is tomorrow, Saturday, June 18th – it’s shaping up to be one of the best community events yet!!

And a Happy Father’s Day to all of the great Dad’s out there! Enjoy your weekend!

“You can tell what was the best year of your father’s life, because they seem to freeze that clothing style and ride it out.” – Jerry Seinfeld


15 Apache Trail Road, Arlington 

Open House: Saturday, June 18th, 11:00 – 12:30               

Sprawling ranch located in the highly desirable Morningside area! Are you looking for a suburban feeling tree lined street then this is the home for you. From the moment you drive up you note the curb appeal-the manicured lawn, freshly painted exterior, and attention to detail, the serene setting, and notice only the birds chirping. Upon entering the foyer the oversized living room with fireplace and built-ins captures your attention. A large picture window allows lots of natural light to stream into the room. A formal dining area with built-in is great for hosting gatherings. A large family room overlooks the professionally maintained, fully fenced yard! There are 3 beds and 2.5 baths (including a master!). A giant lower level offers flexible space for an exercise area, another family room, lots of space for storage, or anything your imagination allows. Gleaming hardwood floors, garage, true pride of ownership, and unbeatable location make this a must see! (MLS # 72023394) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $819,000

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


42 Warren Street, Arlington 

Open House: Saturday, June 18th, 11:00 – 12:30               

This is the perfect two-family home for investment, condominium conversion or first time home with rental income. The house has received many updates over the years and there are still some repairs needed. There is vinyl siding, newer windows, updated kitchen and bathroom on the second floor. The first floor has 5 spacious rooms with natural woodwork and a faux fireplace. The kitchen is older and will need updating, but the character is abundant. The second floor has 8+ spacious rooms and has two levels of living space. The kitchen and bathroom were updated and the expansion potential in the attic is evident. There are front and rear porches, a nice rear yard with a shed and plenty of parking. Close to Arlington Center and East Arlington with great access to Alewife and Cambridge. (MLS # 72023554) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $789,000

What’s Nearby: Arlington Center and East Arlington shops and restaurants, public transportation, Mass Ave., Route 2., Alewife, Cambridge.


65 School Street, Arlington  

Open House: Saturday, June 18th, 11:00 – 12:30

Welcome to this charming 4 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom, Colonial located in the Brackett School District. It is within walking distance to Skyline Park, Mass. Ave., the Minuteman Bike Trail and public transportation to Alewife, Harvard Square and Boston. Routes 2 & 128 are minutes away. The first floor open plan has a large kitchen and adjoining dining room that overlooks a level backyard that is perfect for gardening, playing or just relaxing. The spacious fireplace living room looks onto a full length farmers, front porch. The second floor has 4 corner bedrooms with cross ventilation and ample closet space. The large, walk up attic has plenty of storage space. The basement is very spacious and open with new replacement windows and door that leads to an extended driveway that can accommodate 4+ cars. The detached, one car garage has been recently painted. Move into this lovely home in time for the school year. (MLS # 72023667) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $619,000

What’s Nearby: Arlington Center shops and restaurants, public transportation, Minuteman Bikeway, Skyline Park, Alewife, Brackett School.

1 School Street, Unit 108, Arlington 

Open House: Saturday, June 18th, 1:00 – 2:30

A truly spacious, sunny and special one bedroom unit at the Cutter School! The windows are over-sized and the sunlight shining through them is magnificent. The unit has southern exposure and overlooks the playground. The living room is very open with high ceilings and huge windows and hardwood floors. The kitchen and dining room are slightly elevated overlooking the living room and is quite large with an abundance of cabinets and counter space. The master bedroom is extremely spacious with a built in hutch and walk-in closet. One of the many added bonuses of this condo is the in-unit laundry! Close to Mass Avenue and the bike path, the Cutter School is convenient to everything and is a step above the average condo. Stop by and see for yourself. (MLS #72023551) Click here for the full listing.

Listed: $359,000

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

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!

Find, and be Found, With the #1 Real Estate Team Around


It can be a tough market for home buyers in the Greater Boston area. Inventory has been low and homes are selling fast. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a home out there just right for you.

When you have the #1 team real estate team that works around the clock for you, you won’t miss a new listing and we’ve got your back when it comes to tough negotiations. Our experience is broad and our knowledge is deep when it comes to identifying homes that match up to our client’s needs. And we’ll stick with you until the keys are in your hand.


It is a seller’s market, but that doesn’t take the stress out of selling a home (we do). When it comes to selling your home, you want the world to know so you can sell fast and for the best price possible. We make your home stand out, with marketing that spans from hyper-local ads to a broad reach across social media. Our understanding of the available pool of buyers, along with years of experience handling the negotiations and transactions that come along with one of the biggest sales of your life.

From preparing your home to sell, tactical marketing, negotiations, and closing, we handle the entire home selling process so you don’t have to.

Whether you are in the market to FIND a home, or list your home to be FOUND, turn to Steve McKenna & The Home Advantage Team FIRST for all of your real estate needs.

Find and Be Found, with Steve McKenna & The Home Advantage Team