Moving? Here’s some tips to make your trip easier

Whether you want to hire a moving company or handle the move yourself, Coldwell Banker can help.

When hiring a moving company, it is well worth the time and energy to make sure the company is reputable. The level of professionalism and integrity among movers can vary significantly. Ask your Coldwell Banker-affiliated sales associate, friends and co-workers for recommendations, then get estimates from several companies. Coldwell Banker can also coordinate a free moving estimate.

Coldwell Banker can help you if you choose to move yourself – from truck rental, purchasing boxes or simply being a good source for the “how-to” of moving – we are here to assist you before, during and after the purchase of your new home. Most agents are more than willing to offer advice and assistance to new homeowners; all you have to do is ask.

Planning Your Move

Moving requires extensive planning, particularly if you are relocating, but the experience does not have to be overly stressful. Here are some suggestions to help you organize:

  • If travel is involved, make your transportation and lodging reservations in advance.
  • Service the car for the trip, if driving.
  • File a Change of Address with the post office to have your first-class mail forwarded.
  • Give your new address to your bank (all accounts, credit cards), subscription services, friends and family, etc.
  • Contact utility companies in your new location to arrange for immediate service, and cancel your existing services.
  • Arrange insurance on the new home prior to the transfer of property.
  • Arrange for your present bank to establish credit references for new bank accounts.
  • Service appliances before moving.
  • Clean rugs and have them wrapped.
  • Discontinue deliveries, utilities, newspapers, garbage collection, etc.
  • Obtain copies or transfer your children’s school records.
  • Obtain records from doctors and dentists, including eyeglass prescriptions, dental X-rays and vaccinations.
  • Cancel club memberships.
  • Transfer car title registration, if necessary, as well as driver’s license, city windshield sticker and motor club membership.
  • Pay existing bills and cancel local accounts.
  • Check on personal items that may in a bank safe deposit box, at a neighbor’s house or in the repair shop (e.g. shoes, jewelry, small appliances and dry cleaning).
  • Arrange for transporting pets and obtain immunization records from the vet.
  • Return library books and anything borrowed from friends.
  • Notify the religious leader of your church, synagogue or mosque.
  • Plan for special care and needs of infants.
  • Arrange for transporting plants.
  • Review moving plans with your moving company representative including insurance for packing and unpacking, arrival date, payment agreement, shipping papers, etc.

One Week Before Moving

  • Clean and air out your stove.
  • Empty refrigerator and freezer 24 hours before leaving.
  • Place charcoal or baking soda inside refrigerator and freezer to dispel odors.
  • Dispose of all open cans and jars which cannot be tightly sealed.

On Your Moving Day

  • Leave a copy of your travel itinerary with a friend or relative.
  • Carry all currency, jewelry, personal papers (birth certificates, deeds and documents) and prescription medications.
  • Double-check closets, drawers and shelves to be sure they are empty.
  • Confirm hotel reservations.
  • Leave all old keys needed by the tenant or owner with your sales associate.

In Your New Home

Here are items you may need immediately upon arriving at your new home.

Cleaning:

  • Soap
  • Kitchen cleanser
  • Dish towels
  • Paper towels
  • Dish cloth
  • Steel wool pads
  • Sponge
  • Window cleaner
  • Scrub brush
  • Mop
  • Broom

Kitchen:

  • Paper plates, cups, napkins
  • Plastic knives, forks, spoons
  • Plastic pitcher for drinks
  • Small saucepan
  • Serving spoons

Bathroom:

  • Facial tissue
  • Toilet tissue

Buying and Selling in this Market

Buying and Selling a Home
Housing Market Forecasts

Last month it was reported that the 2018 National Housing Forecast indicated promising news for both buyers and sellers in the year ahead. When looking to purchase or sell a home in this current market, there are various timely facts to consider:

1. Low interest rates
The standard 30-year mortgage currently hovers at just above 4%, which is still historically low.

Realtor.com® reports that rates are projected to steadily climb by the end of 2018.

2. Demand remains high with tight inventory
It’s still a seller’s market in many parts of the country with Realtor.com reporting that unsold inventory is at a 3.2-month supply at the current sales pace, which is the lowest level since the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) began tracking in 1999. It’s not surprising then that anxious home buyers are driving-up prices in demand for housing.

3. Steadily increasing home prices
Realtor.com states that median existing-home prices for all housing types in December was up 5.8 percent from December 2016. The price increase marks the 70th straight month of year-over-year gains. For home buyers sitting on the fence, perhaps it’s time to jump-in before prices and interest rates possibly make entering the market more challenging. Home buyers should come prepared with pre-approved financing and the ability to make a quick purchase decision.

4. Consumer confidence is high
Consumer confidence hit its highest in 17 years this past November, according to the Conference Board’s index released last month. This is a result of low unemployment and stock market spikes that are anticipated to continue strengthening the economic foundation in 2018.

Market Action Reports – Boston and surrounding suburbs

Middlesex County

Barnstable
• Bristol
• Essex
• Franklin
• Hampden
• Hampshire
• Norfolk
• Plymouth
• Suffolk
• Worcester

• Boston
02113-North End
02115-Fenway
02116-Back Back
02118-South End
02130-Jamaica Plain
02210-Seaport
02114-Beacon Hill
02108
02129-Charlestown

 

 

If you are interested in selling your current property or purchasing your dream home, please let me know, I’m always here to help……..and look to helping you with your next steps!

Choosing the Right Agent for You

Buying a home is one of the most rewarding experiences any of us will ever have. It can also be one of the most challenging. Professional expertise and services can be a big help throughout the buying process.

If you’re buying a home for the first time, the process may seem overwhelming. And even if you’ve been through it several times, every move is different, and presents new challenges. This is why we recommend finding an agent affiliated with Coldwell Banker who’s an expert in your area.

Cpldwell Banker
Coldwell Banker is the largest Real Estate Company in the Word

One clear advantage is that you don’t have to go it alone. A good agent has the training, knowledge and experience to help you through each step of the process. This makes the process of finding, buying and moving into your new home as smooth, quick and enjoyable as possible.

Another advantage is that an agent is a valuable source of information about market trends, communities and neighborhoods, particularly regarding homes for sale in the area. Remember, not every home seller runs an ad in the local paper or puts a sign up in the yard. In fact, many homes actually sell before there is ever a need to advertise them.

In addition to market insight, your agent can provide access to complete, regularly updated information about every home listed by area agents through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).

Finding the right agent

The key word here is “right.” While there’s certainly no shortage of qualified agents affiliated with Coldwell Banker to choose from, it’s important that you find one who can fully understand your wants, needs and individual tastes, and whose personal and professional judgment you respect.

Today’s buyers have more options when it comes to choosing the agent who can best represent them in a real estate transaction. Until recent years, virtually all real estate agents worked for the seller. Now, a growing number of buyers work are represented by a “buyer’s agent.” Most real estate companies throughout the U.S. have both a buyer and seller agency.

Before establishing a working relationship, the agent should present you with a disclosure statement. This explains what a buyer’s agent is and does, what a seller’s agent is and does, and what “dual agency” means. It is very important to remember that real estate firms are governed by state laws. These can vary, so disclosure laws may also vary.

We suggest talking to several different agents before choosing one. Below are some guidelines on what to look for.

Choose an agent who:

  1. Makes you feel comfortable.
  2. Knows the community and can point out schools, parks, playgrounds, shops and more.
  3. Can show you more of the homes available throughout the area.
  4. Subscribes to at least one Multiple Listing Service (MLS). This will give you access to information on approximately 90% of all homes for sale in the community.
  5. Has the products, services, and know-how to find the home right for you and market your present home for a faster, more profitable sale.
  6. Can offer you protection against unexpected repair bills in your new home.
  7. Can offer you warranty protection on your new home.
  8. Listens to your needs and responds as a friend, showing as much interest in your satisfaction as in making the transaction.

Once you’ve chosen an agent and started looking at homes, tell the agent everything you liked and didn’t like about each home. Point out the home’s shortcomings: Is it too small for your needs? Was the home perfect except for the carpeting? Details like this will help your agent narrow down the search.

Bear in mind, however, that real estate agents are frequently paid by the seller. The seller’s agent is obligated to help secure the best price for them. In addition, agents working for the seller may report any information you share with them to the seller, such as a willingness to pay a higher price. This is why you may want to be represented by a buyer’s agent, who will keep your input confidential. A buyer’s agent puts the interests of the buyer first, not the seller’s.

Boston’s Top 10

Boston Magazine through a system of analytics, annually ranks all the 155 High Schools within the 495 belt. Small class sizes, lower Student / Teacher ratios, and a strong sports program are weighted more heavily.  Boston Magazine shares these rankings each year in their September issue. The complete 2016  ranking is attached here.

The 2016 Top Schools list is fairly consistent with 2015 Top Ten.  Westborough and Concord / Carlisle fell out of the top 10, while Acton/Boxborough and Winchester found their elite spots.

Our top 10 towns continue to offer a wide range of Single Family Average Selling Price (ASP) as well as commuting times.  The real estate mantra of “Location, Location, Location” definitely applies here when considering ASP vs. commute times for our Top 10.

Lexington 10 Yr ASP
Lexington MA Average Sales Price – 10 yr

When choosing a town, schools are key. But other important factors such as housing affordability and commute times should also be considered.  It’s no surprise communities closer to downtown Boston have more public transportation options (Newton, Winchester), offering both commuter rail and bus options with a smaller drive times as well.   Towns farther out; Dover, Boxborough, Harvard, etc.  have much longer commute times, and often only by car.  However, home affordability is much easier on the bank account.  Additionally, the farther you live from Boston, the more land you tend to get with a home.  All these factors are important when deciding towns you’d like to pursue.

There are several towns sharing a High School.  There are two examples on the Boston Magazine list;  Dover/Sherborn and Acton/Boxborough. Other examples of shared schools: Concord/Carlisle and Lincoln/Sudbury.  Often the sharing towns have very different feels and ASP’s.

Concord MA 10 Yr ASP
Concord 10 Yr Average Single Family sales price

Concord has a very dynamic town center (actually 2 centers……Concord and the up and coming “West Concord” home of the newest hot spot,  a Farm to Table restaurant, Woods Hill Table …Plan ahead, the choice times are often not available)  with  artisanal  “mom and pop shops”.

Carlisle 10 Yr ASP
Carlisle, MA 10 Yr ASP – Single Family Homes

 

Carlisle typically has a 2 acre minimum and is fairly wooded.  No public transportation of any kind, other than a school bus!  Carlisle is a town with a single store, “Fern’s”.  A one stop shop, providing a decent deli and wine assortment.   Also good for last minute bread, eggs, and milk!

 

Boston Magazine HS Ranking

 

Community

Average 2016 Sales Price of a Single-Family Home

Average Commute time to DT Boston

Public Transportation Option

1

Dover $1,285,800 40 Minutes none

1

Sherborn $803,800 43 Minutes

none

2

Lexington $1,207,000 30 minutes

Bus to Alewife

3 Weston $1,887,700 25 minutes

Train

4 Wayland $835,800 33 minutes None
5 Newton South $1,249,300 25 minutes Train / Bus
6 Wellesley $1,478,800 35 minutes Train
7 Harvard $601,100 53 minutes none
8 Acton $596,700 43 minutes Train
8 Boxborough $626,000 45 minutes none
9 Bedford $775,300 33 minutes Bus to Alewife
10 Winchester $1,174,100 23 minutes Train / Bus

I’ve only indicated whether there are train or bus stops actually within a specific community. There are commuter options for many of the above if you’re willing to drive to an adjacent town.  For example, Bedford residents can drive to nearby Concord to take the train/Commuter Rail into Boston.  Boxborough residents can drive to either the Littleton or Acton station, etc.  Please visit MBTA Map & Schedules for additional information.

Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.

Our home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise your family, full of memories and cherished belongings.  We fall in love with a home the way we never would with a stock portfolio.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the physical features of the houses you’re looking at.  However, please stop to consider how the places you’re considering would shape your social relationships within and outside the family. One of the biggest tradeoffs is commuting.  People focus on a home that’s a certain size or style, ignoring the fact they want to spend as much time as possible with family.  That “Perfect” house may require a longer commute, keeping them away from home for an extra hour or two each working day!

Also – when looking at affordability, please include the costs of any renovations or new furniture you may need / want.  When you’re thinking about a house, think about the furnishings at the same time.

Dr. Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale, wrote about recent home buyers around the country and their expectations on future values of their homes.

He found most home buyers have very high long term price expectations.  This could lead to someone buying a home not because it’s a good fit, but because a buyer deems it as a good investment. Some even plan on using the equity in their homes to fund their retirement.  Remember, you still need a place to live in retirement!

 

You’re moving! What to do with all that STUFF!

So you’re moving!  Onto the next chapter in your life.  It’s exciting until you start to get a handle on what exactly it is you need to move.  How did you acquire all this STUFF! Fortunately, there are several options for your accumulations.

Option #1 – DONATE

There are many fantastic places for the furniture, clothing, household items you no longer need.  Here are some of my favorites!

Household Goods  530 Main Street, Acton       (978) 635-1710

Household Goods provides a full range of donated furniture and household items, free of charge, to help people in need make a home. Most of their clients are moving out of motels or shelters into very small apartments.  They can pick furniture and household goods at no charge, to help set up an apartment and get themselves back on their feet. A large percentage of their clients have children so for safety reasons they do not accept glass topped tables,etc.
Drop off donations on Tuesday, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9-12. Click here for a list of items they accept.

More than Words
More than Words – BEST place for book donations

BOOKS

You’re moving, downsizing and need to trim that library back a bit? There is a fabulous organization that takes gently loved books.  I can’t say enough about them.

More than Words helps at risk youth who are in the foster system, court-involved, homeless, or have dropped out of high school.  (781) 788-0035

With two bookstore locations, they employ these youths empowering them to take charge of their lives by taking charge of a business They challenge the youth with two jobs: the Business Job and the “You” Job.

GAINING PROFESSIONAL SKILLS: THE BUSINESS JOB
• Work 20+ hours/week
• Manage an online & retail bookstore in Boston and a bookstore/café in Waltham
• Train in all aspects of business
• Facilitate peer-led trainings and team meetings
• Plan and host store events
• Track performance and earn promotions

SUCCESSFULLY NAVIGATING LIFE: THE YOU JOB
• Learn essential life skills (opening a bank account, finding housing, getting an ID)
• Participate in workshops, mock interviews, resume building
• Craft individualized action plans
• Be accountable for their progress
• Commit to getting GED or diploma
• Receive assistance to pursue higher education

More than Words has 2 Store locations:

Bookstore and Cafe
376 Moody Street
Waltham, MA  02453

Boston Warehouse Bookstore

242 East Berkeley Street, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02118
Also:  Book Donation drop off location:   56 Felton Street, Waltham           (781) 314-9330

More traditional donation outlets:

Habitat for Humanity – ReStore   Donations are sold, with monies going towards Habitat housing projects in our area.

Both Epilepsy Foundation and Big Brothers / Big Sisters have monthly pick-ups in your area.   You can call or schedule on-line.

Option #2 – CONSIGNMENT  

Moving service and delivery company illustration. Two loader mover man holding and carrying sofa with big carton cardboard box. 3d color vector creative concept with characters.
Moving service and delivery company illustration. Two loader mover man holding and carrying sofa with big carton cardboard box. 3d color vector creative concept with characters.

Consigning gives you the option of getting a few shekels for your pieces.   I like Buy and Consign in Waltham.  Hand pick estate cleanouts.  Their cut is 50%.  Prices are reduced every 2 months until they’re gone.  Eventually, however, the items are donated.

Option #3 – ON-LINE SITES

EBAY – enough said!

REPLACEMENTS – they deal with china, crystal, flatware and dinnerware.  When I inherited my mother’s china, we replaced the missing pieces here!

Option #4 – JUNK COMPANIES

GotJunk   or  (800) 468-JUNK  (5865)

Type in your zip code, select the pick up date / time (it’s a 2 hour window). They donate or recycle 61.3% of what they pick up!  Picking up appliances, furniture, TV’s, mattresses, and bags / boxes of who knows what.  Prices seem very reasonable. A client of mine used them.  He left a huge pile of lawn furniture, old mattresses, boxes of misc items.  Got Junk showed up in a 20’ branded truck, loaded everything.  Took a Charge card over the phone.  About $750.00.  DONE!

 

Clean out your House
Clean out your House

Clean Out Your House

(781) 826-3120) is the sister company of Buy and Consign.  They take everything from any part of your home including the garage, attic and basement – furniture, clothing, rubbish, hazardous wastes, old bikes, or anything that is cluttering up your home. They take everything, do all the labor, and are responsible for disposing of it in a green and environmentally safe way.  They also work in partnership with Household Goods!

 Option #5 – ESTATE SALE

Most estate sale companies will sort, price and catalog items.  However, you want one that goes that extra step.

  • Place drop cloths over all carpet
  • Clean and wipe all items
  • Have a cashier
  • Have several security people, ideally 1-2 per floor
  • Advertise in local paper and online
  • Inform local antique dealers
  • Post the sales on their website
  • Clean house when finished
  • Donate all items left
  • Give donation paperwork to Seller

There is a charge of between 25 – 30% of the total sales. Some companies charge a flat fee.

In your search, for an estate sale company, also ask for referrals. Call different clients that have used them.

Trilogy Estate Sales is very good.  (617) 969-1093

They will liquidate the entire contents of a home and provide free consultations!

There are lots of options depending on your time and the complexity of the job.  The biggest help of all is TIME!  Give yourself alot of it. If you know you’re going to be down-sizing in a few years, start NOW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Complex Psychology of Buying a Home

Homes come with far more emotional weight than any other investment we make.

Our home is a refuge from the world, a place to raise your family, layered with memories and cherished belongings.  We fall in love with a home the way we never would with a stock portfolio.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the physical features of the houses you’re considering.  However, please stop to contemplate how the places you’re interested in would shape your families social relationships, both within and outside the family. One of the biggest tradeoffs is commuting.  People focus on a home that’s a certain size style, or town ignoring the fact they want to spend as much time as possible with family.  That “Perfect” house may require a longer commute, keeping them away from home for an extra hour or two each working day!

Additionally, when looking at affordability, please include the costs of any renovations or new furniture you may need / want.  When you’re thinking about a house, think about  furnishings and remodeling costs at the same time. More importantly, please keep in mind whether you’re buying in a higher or lower housing market.

I always advise my buyers not to extend themselves. “Never be house poor!”  You never know how some “event” will affect the economy or your family.  Also, if you have children sometimes they get quite expensive.  They could be the next Olympic gymnast requiring extensive training or possibly they may have special needs with costly medical expenses or necessary supports.

Home Sweet Home
Buyer’s Psychology: Home Sweet Home

 

Dr. Robert Shiller, a professor of economics at Yale wrote an analysis of housing prices and associated spending –

To quote his abstract:

“We re-examine the links between changes in housing wealth, financial wealth, and consumer spending…observing the thirty-seven year period, 1975 through 2012Q2. Using techniques reported previously, we impute the aggregate value of owner-occupied housing, the value of financial assets, and measures of aggregate consumption for each of the geographic units over time. We estimate regression models in levels, first differences and in error-correction form, relating per capita consumption to per capita income and wealth. We find a statistically significant and rather large effect of housing wealth upon household consumption. This effect is consistently larger than the effect of stock market wealth upon consumption.

The results presented here with the extended data now show that declines in house prices stimulate large and significant decreases in household spending.

The elasticities implied by this work are large. An increase in real housing wealth comparable to the rise between 2001 and 2005 would, over the four years, push up household spending by a total of about 4.3%. A decrease in real housing wealth comparable to the crash which took place between 2005 and 2009 would lead to a drop of about 3.5%.” Shiller – Wealth Effects Abstract – p. 2013

He wrote about recent home buyers around the country and their expectations on future values of their homes.  He also found most home buyers have very high long-term price expectations.  This could lead to someone buying a home not because it’s a good fit, but because a buyer deems it as a good investment. Some even plan on using the equity in their homes to fund their retirement.  Remember, you still need a place to live in retirement!

Stay conservative my friends!!

 

Coldwell Banker / Realogy “World’s Most Ethical Companies”

Realogy Named as a 2016 World’s Most Ethical Company by Ethisphere Institute for Fifth Year in a Row

Realogy Holdings Corp. (NYSE: RLGY), COLDWELL BANKER’S Parent company has been recognized by the Ethisphere Institute, the global leader in defining and advancing the standards of ethical business practices, as a 2016 World’s Most Ethical Company®.

This is the fifth consecutive year in which Realogy has received this recognition. The World’s Most Ethical Company assessment is based upon the Ethisphere Institute’s Ethics Quotient (EQ) framework developed over years of research to provide a means to assess an organization’s performance in an objective, consistent and standardized way. The Ethics Quotient framework is outlined in the above chart.

2016 Most Ethical Companies
Scoring & Methodology 2016 Most Ethical Companies

Realogy Holding Corp, COLDWELL BANKER’S Parent Company, is a global leader in real estate franchising and provider of real estate brokerage, relocation and settlement services. recognized by The World’s Most Ethical Companies designation recognizes those companies who align principle with action, work tirelessly to make trust part of their corporate DNA, and, in doing so, shape future industry standards by introducing tomorrow’s best practices today. Realogy is one of just 131 companies in the world honored this year and is the ONLY residential real estate company to  make achieve this honor.

As a COLDWELL BANKER real estate agent, we are required to take Ethics and Fair Housing refresher training courses every 2 years. Honesty and Integrity and critical values, constantly reinforced.

“We are once again honored to be recognized by the Ethisphere Institute as being among a select group of world-class companies focused on ethical leadership,” said Richard A. Smith, Realogy’s chairman, chief executive officer and president. “We take great pride in creating a company culture that places a premium on ethics and integrity. We believe that sustainable and trustworthy companies can only be built upon a strong ethical foundation.” “Our leadership position in our industry is based on the quality of our people and their commitment to our core values, which include acting with integrity, delivering on promises and making a positive difference in our communities,” said Elisabeth Gehringer, Realogy’s chief ethics and compliance officer. “Our employees understand that they play a key role in ensuring that our company culture is infused with ethical values.”

Who is Buying Homes and Where?

Who bought Homes in 2015 and Where?

The majority of home buyers prefer to live the suburbs. And a growing share of these homebuyers are Millennials. This is according to the 2016 National Association of Realtors® Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends.

Millennials - Top Home Buyers
Millennials gaining ground – top home buyers

Millennials make up 35% of current home buyers, (32% in 2014). The median age of home buying millennials is 30 years old, which is usually where one settles down to marry and raise a family (please note the “raise a family” piece, because this comes into play later). While most millennials prefer to live in an urban area as renters, this NAR survey shows most aren’t staying once they’re ready to buy. The percent of millennials buying in an urban location decreased from 21% a year ago to 17%. That’s a big 5% decrease! Limited inventory in millennials’ price range, minimal entry-level condo construction and affordability pressures make buying in the city extremely difficult for most young households.

Additionally, fewer of them (10 percent) purchased a multifamily home compared to a year ago (15 percent). So as they age, they become more traditional in their buying habits.

Who are Millennials?
Millennials – The Top Home Buyers

 

AGE OF HOME BUYERS – 2015
Year Born Age in 2015 % in Category Median Age Group
Millennials / Gen Y / Gen Next 1980-1995 <35 35% 30
Gen X 1965-1979 36-50 26 42
Boomers – Younger 1955-1964 51-60 16 56
Boomers – Older 1946-1954 61-69 15 65
Silent Generation 1925-1945 70-90 9 74

Gen X buyers make up 26% of recent home sales. They are the more racially and ethnically diverse home buying group. Only 72% identify themselves as other than White / Caucasian. The Gen X buyers are in their peak earning years, typically have children, and purchase the highest median priced homes with the largest median square footage and bedrooms. Their choices are highly determined by schools.

Schools are a critical piece of the search process for many homebuyers. The NAR report outlines just how non-negotiable that issue is.

The Table below outlines the amount a buyer is willing to compromise on certain criteria –  A schools location and quality are the most important characteristic a home buying decision is based on.

Characteristic Millennials Gen X Young Boomers Old Boomers Silent Generation
Distance from Schools 1% 3% 1% 1% 1%
Quality of Schools 7% 4% 2% 1% 1%
Quality of Neighborhood 7% 7% 6% 3% 5%
Distance from family/friends 8% 6% 5% 6% 5%
Distance from Work 18% 17% 11% 4% 1%
Home’s Style 17% 14% 10% 10% 8%
Lot size 18% 16% 12% 7% 8%
Sq Footage 21% 18% 15% 11% 17%
Condition 19% 20% 16% 21% 14%
Price 22% 22% 18% 16% 15%

Healthy Home – Radon

WHAT IS RADON?le

Radon is a naturally occurring odorless, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas produced by the decay of uranium and radium in the ground.  It percolates up from the soil. Because it’s a gas, radon can move into water or air.

Radon is present outdoors and is normally found at very low levels in the outdoor air and waters of our rivers and lakes.  It can be found in much higher levels in enclosed spaces like your home or private well.  Once inside enclosed spaces, radon can accumulate.  Hence, radon levels inside tend to be much higher than those found outdoors. Due to the geological makeup of our region, it is estimated a quarter of Massachusetts homes may be at risk for high levels of radon.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified the states counties based on radon potential.  This chart shows Middlesex, Essex, and Worcester counties have the greatest risk for high levels of radon. I’ve also included a map of the US.

US Radon Map
US Radon Map

 

HOW SERIOUS IS RADON?

Radon is a carcinogen. It is the leading cause of lung cancer among non smokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer overall. There are many sources of radiation, however radon is the largest.

Radon undergoes a radioactive breakdown, decaying into other radioactive elements resulting in the release of subatomic alpha particles. These stick to surfaces such as dust particles.  If this contaminated dust in inhaled, these particles adhere to the airways of the lungs overtime damaging the cells. It is estimated radon exposures cause 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States.

The EPA has established an action guideline, recommending mitigation for residences with radon concentrations at or above. 4.0 picocuries per liter of air  (pCi/L)

RADON TESTING

Radon testing is simple and inexpensive.  Radon test kits can be purchased at your local hardware store, on Amazon, online.  Kits typically cost between $10 and $40.  You want to get a kit with 2 vials as you’re checking for consistency.  Place both vials next to each other. Read the instructions on the kit carefully.  These tests are timed.  A typical test takes at least 48 hours.  Reseal the vials, note the vial numbers and mail back to the testing lab. Your results should be available on line 2-3 days after the lab has received your kit.

Radon Test Kit
Accustar Radon Test Kit

If you’re buying a home, it is important you make radon testing part of your inspection.  Most home inspectors can test for radon. Some inspectors have continuous radon monitors, providing hourly radon levels.  These cost a bit more than the vial kits, however your results will be available immediately after the 48 hour required testing time.

If your home tests over 4.0, don’t worry!  Mitigation systems typically get the levels under 2.0 pCi/L.

RADON MITIGATION

The process to mitigate is relatively simple. A method called active soil depressurization is typically used. A zone of low pressure is created below the slab, reducing the rate radon enters the home.  A fan and piping is installed sucking radon out from under the foundation and venting it into the atmosphere.  A system typically costs between $1,200 to $1,800.  Your homes design, size, and foundation may impact the systems cost.

After your system is installed, it is important to retest for radon.   Please give your new system a few days to clean the radon out.

Radoy System Monitor
Radon System Monitor

Also important – the radon mitigation system is a vaccume system.  Your systems pipe moving radon from your foundation to the outside air will have a tube of colored water.  The levels on both sides of the tube should be uneven.  This indicates the system is working.  IF both sides are even, please call a mitigation contractor.

New Construction Homes – Bedford & Lexington MA

A LOOK AT NEW CONSTRUCTION HOMES IN BEDFORD AND LEXINGTON –

Any Bedford resident has noticed the growth in new construction. Every neighborhood has someone building something!

In the past 12 months, 20 new construction homes sold in Bedford! That’s a 54% INCREASE over 2014.
The average new construction home price increased 8%,from $1,140,100 to $1,233,000.
These homes also sold about 2 weeks quicker in 2015! Bedford existing home sales were up 5%, with the ASP barely increasing.

BEDFORD – All Single family sales 2015
Total units sold – 156 units +20%
Total Days on Market – 66 +3%
Average Sales Price – $785,700 +11%

In contrast, Lexington’s more mature new construction market,was basically flat. With 74 new home sales in both 2014 and 2015 and an ASP of $1,620,000 for both years. The only bright spot was homes sold on average 30 days faster.
Backing out new construction sales, Lexington existing home sales were up 5% to 313 units, selling 4% higher.

LEXINGTON – All Single family activity 2015
Total units sold – 387 units +5%
Total Days on Market – 70 +4%
Average Sales Price – $1,149,000 +3%

Both towns benefit from top ranked schools, proximity to major highways & downtown Boston. Bedford has done some tightening on building regulations recently. We’ll see 2016 new construction slow down a bit.
Interest rates should remain affordable however so we project the strong housing market will continue!