Category Archives: Prudential Unlimited Quick Tips

9 Ways to Make Your Small Space Look Bigger

Moving into your first JP or Brookline apartment? Or buying your first Boston condo? As a city dweller, here are some helpful tips to make your cozy space look bigger.

  1. Space it out– A small space doesn’t mean you have to be cramped. Try angling your bed or float the sofa in the living room with a skinny console behind it. Breathing room around your furniture lends the appearance of more space.http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-interior-modern-apartment-image24354603
  2. Use multifunctional pieces– Investing in furniture that serves many functions is a simple way to streamline a room. Try a vintage steamer trunk or an ottoman with built-in storage to tuck away blankets and books for a clean look.
  3. Use mirrors– Mirrors are the quickest way to make a room appear larger. While you may not want wall-to-wall, lean an oversized full-length one against a key wall or hang multiple ones salon style to create a statement wall
  4. Fold it up– Dining tables that are small or that have drop leaves, which allow it to become smaller when not in use are ideal for small areas, meaning you can make the most of your eating-slash-living area.http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-amazing-modern-living-room-image11857429
  5. Go monochromatic– Paint your walls, trim, and detailing in different shades of one color, such as white, off-white, and beige to expand a room. You can also try pairing gallery white walls with a very pale gray on trim and detailing for an open-air French-inspired room.
  6. Get perspective– Skip the dark-inducing drapes and leave your windows uncovered. This will trick your eyes into thinking that your pad’s got depth — and reveal the natural landscape outside. If your room requires some privacy, try gauzy sheer white drapes for an airy feel that will keep prying eyes out.
  7. Think big– It’s easy to assume that you should decorate a small space with small furniture, right? But one prominent furniture piece such as a statement armchair will keep the space uncluttered and open.http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-living-room-interior-design-image24141192
  8. Pop your ceilings– While bright white opens up a room (on walls), going for a dark ceiling creates depth while fun fixtures draw your eye upward, creating the illusion of height.
  9. Color code– Give your favorite items a little structure by arranging by color and height. This will turn a potential clutter disaster into a streamlined display with personality.

Source: MSN Living

10 Home Checks to Prepare for the Warmer Months

Homes can take a bad hit during the winter, particularly after this year’s harsh weather. Seasonal damage to a home isn’t always easily visible, but if it’s not repaired, spring and summer storms can add to the problems.

Read on at the National Association of Realtors to find out the 10 home checks to make sure your space is ready for the summer!

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Find out what your home is worth!

Did you know?

The average sales price of a single family home/condo as of March 2014 INCREASED 28% in JP and 27.7% in Brookline over the same time period one year ago.

What’s your home worth today? If you’re thinking about selling, check your latest home price HERE or contact Jon Ufland at 617-901-9977 to be connected with one of our home pricing specialists and receive a FREE, customized analysis of your home’s value.

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7 Tips for First Time Home Buyers

7 Tips for First Time Home Buyers Competing in a Seller’s Market:

1. Gather Down Payment – Explore all potential sources and be prepared with the highest down payment possible.  You may not need it, but the more you have at your disposal, the better you can compete.

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2. Establish A Budget – Determine the monthly payment you can afford or the maximum you are willing or comfortable paying each month towards housing costs.  Be sure to include mortgage, condo fees (if any), property taxes, insurance. Determine whether this is gross or net of taxes benefits.

3. Determine Your Time Frames – How long do you plan to live in the home, own the home and/or maintain the initial mortgage.

4. Develop Your Team – There are multiple people involved in a real estate transaction, including: Buyer’s Agents, attorneys and lenders. Meet with a Buyer’s Agent to help put your home buying strategy together, taking your short and long term goals into consideration. Find a group of experts to represent you, negotiate the best deal and help simplify the process.

5. Line Up Financing – Get pre-approved and understand current interest rates, closing costs, and various loan programs available to you.

6. Search Properties Online – Ask your Buyer’s Agent to provide you with a real time feed of the newest properties to hit the market within your specific parameters based on your desired location, the size, type and amenities you are hoping to find, and your budget.

7. Attend Open Houses And Make Appointments To See hand-101003Homes With Your Buyer’s Agent – Your agent should not just set it and forget it.  He or she should be aggressive, proactive, and available to meet your needs. Buying a home is a process of elimination, and understanding your true tastes and motivations can only be discovered by seeing properties with you and asking the right questions.

Following these steps should make your home search more efficient, more effective and help you compete in a hot Seller’s Market.

For more information, you’re invited to attend one of our First Time Home Buyer Seminars. Click here for more.

7 Financial Benefits Of Home Ownership This Tax Season

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1. Homeownership Builds Wealth Over Time
Homeownership can be a very savvy financial move – but only if people buy homes they can actually afford.

2. You Build Equity Every Month
Your equity in your home is the amount of money you can sell it for minus what you still owe on it. Every month you make a mortgage payment, and that reduction of your mortgage every month increases your equity.

3. You Reap Mortgage Tax Deduction Benefits

  • Mortgage deduction: The tax code allows homeowners to deduct the mortgage interest from their tax obligations.
  • Some closing cost deductions: The first year you buy your home, you are able to claim the points (also called origination fees) on your loan, no matter whether they are paid by you or the seller.
  • Property tax is deductible: Real estate property taxes paid on your primary residence and a vacation home are fully deductible for income tax purposes.

4. Tax Deductions on Home Equity Lineshttp://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-mortgage-interest-deduction-image4836694
You can deduct the interest you pay on a home equity loan (or line of credit). This allows you to shift your credit card debts to your home equity loan, pay a lower interest rate than the exorbitant credit card interest rates, and get a deduction on the interest as well.

5. You Get a Capital Gains Exclusion
If you buy a home to live in as your primary residence for more than two years then you will qualify. When you sell, you can keep profits up to $250,000 if you are single, or $500,000 if you are married, and not owe any capital gains taxes.

6. A Mortgage Is Like a Forced Savings Plandreamstimefree_35120
Paying that mortgage every month and reducing the amount of your principal is like a forced savings plan. Each month you are building up more valuable equity in your home.

7. Long Term, Buying Is Cheaper than Renting
In the first few years, it may be cheaper to rent. But over time, as the interest portion of your mortgage payment decreases, the interest that you pay will eventually be lower than the rent you would have been paying. But more importantly, you are not throwing away all that money on rent. You gotta live someplace, so instead of paying off your landlord’s home or building, pay off your own!

Source: Forbes

Thinking about buying a multi-family home for an investment?

Buying a Multi-Family Home

One of the benefits of buying a multi-family home is the ability to use the rent payments to help pay your mortgage. This lets you have a lower housing expense and build more real estate equity. A two- or three-family home can be a great investment, but it’s not for everyone. Use these questions to help you decide if buying a multi-family might work for you.

How comfortable are you with home maintenance?

You might have the tools and not mind doing small jobs, or you might know somebody reliable who is handy. But remember, there will be two or three kitchens, two or three baths, painting, plumbing, electrical, and yard work.

How are your boundaries?

Your tenants will be your neighbors, maybe even your friends or family. These can be really rich relationships, but having tenants can also be complicated and contain possibilities of miscommunication, differing expectations, even court action.

Do you have a cash cushion?

That mortgage payment is due every month – whether your apartment(s) are rented or not.

If you are still excited, then a multi-family with its mix of home and business may be right for you. We have a lot of experience and excel at working with first time multi-family buyers. Call or email us and let’s go look at some houses!

Flexibility

Some two-family homes have a modest “rental” unit and a larger “owner” unit. You can live economically in the smaller unit until you need the larger space. The higher rent you can get from the larger unit will pay a larger part of your mortgage payment. Or you can live in the larger unit, yet still have part of your mortgage paid by the rent. Click here for our Multi-Family Financial Worksheet.

Next Step

When you’re ready to move to your next home, you have the option of keeping the multi-family as a rental property for extra monthly income, for future college tuition, or to help finance an early retirement.

If selling is the right strategy, you could sell it as a multi-family. You could also sell each apartment separately by converting to condominiums.

Quick Tips: Spring Cleaning and Roof Maintenance

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The snow is gone and it’s time to do some spring cleaning, here is a list of items to clean and things to do during your spring cleaning session!

Wipe down walls and ceilings

This is a big one, especially for kitchens! Break out the degreaser and clean the walls near the stove and sink to remove excess grease build up.  Ceilings looking a little dusty?Take your broom and give all your ceilings a good sweep.

Rugs and Carpets looking a little grimy from dirty snow shoes?

Now is the time to vacuum heavily and shampoo all your carpets and rugs. Most local grocery stores offer rentals for carpet shampooing but there are a number of companies that will do this for you as well. Keep an eye out for seasonal, Groupon and Livingsocial deals in your area.

Don’t forget about your fabric furniture either!

Fabric furniture can often be cleaned my the companies that do your carpets and rugs so see if they have a special deal for both! If you’d prefer to do this yourself take cushions outside and beat them with a broom handle to shake loose dirt and dust. IF you vacuum has a hose attachment run that all over furniture and cushions that have been collecting dirt and dust all winter long.

Door handles and hardware looking scumy?

Polish them! Depending on the material, you may need a certain type of polish but scour your local store to see what works best for you to vanish that tarnish! Don’t forget about all of the cabinet hardware in the kitchen, bathrooms and any built in’s you might have.  Door knobs and hinges can also use a good polishing now and again. You can also wax or polish all wooden surfaces as well. Old English and Murphy’s Oil are great for wood surfaces that need a little love in the Spring.

Window treatments looking a little neglected?

Take them down and give them a good wash or take them to get drycleaned. Dusting does little to clean fabric window treatments so we sure to give them a bath once in awhile to keep your home allergen free. Make sure to wipe down blinds and window sills while the treatments are removed as well.

Winter clothes and decorations be gone.

Make sure to trade out those winter clothes for spring clothes and pack away all heavy curtains, rugs and throws so that they can be replaced with lighter ones. This is also a great time to donate items that no longer fit or are getting old and worn.

Sort thru items in the attic and basement to look for items to donate and to better organize with event, holiday, etc. Use concrete blocks to keep storage boxes off the ground. Place your washer and dryer on elevated pedestals to prevent electrical shock in preparation for any potential flooding.

Outside

Sweep up cobwebs and debris with a broom, and wash exterior walls with a solution of all-purpose cleaner and water using a sponge. Treat mildew spots with a solution of 1 part oxygen bleach to 3 parts water using a deck brush. Most materials, including aluminum, plastic, wood, and wicker, can handle a solution of mild dishwashing liquid and water and a soft-bristle brush.

Wash all outside covers, and check for damaged wires and connections on outside fixtures.

Lastly, make sure fire and CO2 alarms have fresh batteries and test them to make sure they are functioning as they should. 

Roof Maintenance

In the spring, homeowners should survey the damage that harsh winter conditions have rendered. Your shingles, gutters and flashing all need to be checked for damage once the spring thaw has occurred. A roofing contractor can be hired for an inspection but it is also something you can do yourself. Here’s a DIY guide to spring roof maintenance:


1. Survey your shingles carefully: This involves getting up on a ladder and actually scanning your shingles. You should look for shingles that are missing, peeling, or losing their grain. Sun exposure can cause asphalt shingles to become brittle and to crack. If you notice peeling, missing or grainless shingles, replace or repair them.


2. Clean moss and mold from your roof’s shingles: If you notice moss or mold growing on or in between your shingles, remove it. Do not power wash moss or mold off of your shingles. Power washing can remove the protective top layer from your shingles. Buy a roof moss remover solution and spray your roof with it, and then remove the moss with a long-handled broom.


3. Tighten metal roof bolts: If you have a metal roof, tighten the bolts of the metal roof in the spring. This is great preparation for summer and autumn storm seasons.


4. Clean your gutters and downspouts: Gutter cleaning is an annoying job, but you can definitely do it yourself. Get out your ladder and a garden trowel. Scoop all of the leaves and debris out of your gutter, and be sure to clean out the entrance and exit of the downspout. Secure your gutter if it is loose.


5. Repair chimney and skylight flashing: Flashing is the metal strips that seal the juncture between your chimney or skylight and your roof. Strong winds and snow can cause the flashing to come loose. Tack down the flashing in order to prevent leaks from summer and spring rain storms.


6. Clean out soffits and fascias: Small animals love to nest in soffit and fascia vents. Their warmth is an attractive option for cold animals during the winter months. Inspect and clean soffits and fascias to prevent unwanted pests from nesting there. As with any DIY roof maintenance work, be mindful of safety. If your roof is in serious disrepair or is simply too high or steep for you to maintain yourself, call a professional roofer.

Quick Tips: Fall Décor Ideas with Chelsea Moore

Another turn of the seasons means a chance to re-vamp your home inside and out. This week’s Quick Tips by Chelsea Moore takes a look at how you can spruce up your house for a festive fall.

Jazzing up the Outside of Your Home

Check out your local farmer’s markets, flower shops, grocery stores and home improvement shops for sales on local fall flowers. You can trade those summer flowers out for beautiful fall florals in hues of orange and red.

Large pumpkins, colorful gourds and large pots filled with mums, marigolds or impatient’s are the perfect decorations for the front stoop or porch.

There are a number of other flowers and plants that grow easily in the fall and brighten up any yard. See our list of fall plants below:

  • Calico Aster
  • Sunflowers
  • Gerbera Daisies
  • Cosmos
  • Dahlias
  • Toad Lily
  • Goldenrod
  • Russian Sage
  • Colchicum
  • Helenium
  • Sedum
  • Red Spider Lilies

Interior Décor

There are so many simple crafts that can add a dramatic Fall flair to any home.

Frame up your favorite fall leaves!  Pick some of your favorite leaves outside, dry and press in a book (or something similar). Once dry and pressed, place on top of a piece of decorative fall paper or a page from an old book and toss inside an old frame. Old books and frames can be found in Thrift stores and places like Goodwill and Salvation Army for cheap and easily refurbished in this kind of project!

Looking for fun ways to dress up those plain old candles you have lying around? Well look no further! Go outside and gather all different shapes and sizes of twigs, cut and arrange around your candles using a low temp glue gun or super glue to hold them in place or have a helper tie twine or raffia around them to hold them in place. Another cute candle idea is to take cinnamon sticks and tie them around the candles as well and when the candle burns it will send a wonderful cinnamon scent through out your home. For maximum scent effect, pair with a vanilla, apple or pumpkin candle! If you have a few empty cylinder vases or can find some for cheap fill them up about a third of the way with fake cranberries or mini fake pumpkins/gourds and nestle in your candle to create your own little candle oasis.

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Check out our Pinterest page for free Halloween and Fall printables, as well as other great fall craft ideas. Fall printables are perfect for framing and setting up on your mantle with your newly decorated candles and some festive gourds.

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Don’t forget to come in, call or visit us at PrudentialUnlimited.com for all your Real Estate needs in Boston, Brookline, Jamaica Plain and surrounding areas.

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Quick Tips: Moving into a new apartment.


Living in a new environment, whether as a first time home owner, veteran property professional, or college student in a new dorm… can be stressful. This weeks’ “Quick Tips” are all about your new home; getting things organized, cleaning what the previous tenants left behind, and general household upkeep with a twist. After the chaos that was Sept. 1st, 2012 (See our survival guide HERE)  we will to take a look at some steps you can take to make your new house a home.

Around the House

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Candle wax on your new floor? Use a brown paper bag and an iron to clean up the mess! Place a paper towel or brown paper bag over the dry wax spill and press with an iron on low heat. The wax will stick to the paper and lift right off your floor!

2.

Wooden furniture legs scratched during the move? Take a raw walnut, rub it over the scratches and watch as they disappear. The natural oils in the walnuts help to seal the scratches on your wooden furniture, making them look brand new.

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Polish chrome items with baby oil. Just a dab on a cotton cloth will make everything shine!

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Drains clogged? Mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar and
pour down a clogged drain and cover it with a warm wet cloth. Let the mixture settle in the pipes for about 5 minutes, uncover and run steaming hot water through the pipes.

5.

Greasy dinner make a mess on your clothes or furniture? Toss a little cornmeal on top of the grease stain and let it absorb your mess for about 10-15 minutes. Dust or vacuum over the cornmeal and, viola! No more grease stains!

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Water stains ruining your furniture? Turn that hair dryer on high and aim at the stain. Watch as the water ring disappears! Once the ring is gone, dab a little olive oil over the surface to keep the wood moisturized. A hot iron over a towel will work wonders on those water stains as well.

In the Kitchen

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Cleaning your food processor or grinder regularly can be a chore but it will keep residual flavors from mixing together and creating a not so tasty treat. For a quick fix, toss a piece of fresh white bread in and run your processor/grinder. This will lift any residual oils or smalls pieces of food out of the appliance.

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Hate the self cleaning function on your oven and heavy duty chemical cleaners? By making your own paste from baking soda and water you can clean your oven more naturally!

How to: Mix baking soda and water to a paste consistency and coat the oven surfaces evenly (but don’t cover the heating elements!). Let this sit overnight to break down the grease and grime that has accumulated in your oven. The next day (preferably while wearing gloves) take a plastic spatula, scrape it all up and wipe down with a damp paper towel. Once your ‘new’ oven is clean and ready to go, cover the bottom with an oven liner available at most home goods stores.

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Do your coffee cups have dark tea and coffee stains? White dishes stained and you haven’t been able to remove them? Fill your sink with warm water, drop a few denture cleaning tablets in the water and let your dishes soak until the stains are gone! Rinse and repeat as needed to remove the stains completely! For ceramic and enamel items with stains and dark scratches, try Bar Keeper’s Friend. Bar keepers friend is a great cleaning agent that will make your dishes look brand new!

4.

Microwave oven have stains or a weird odor? Fill a bowl or mug with water and a teaspoon of vanilla extract and heat on high for 2-3 minutes. Leave the microwave door shut for an additional couple of minutes to allow the steam to penetrate caked on food. Wipe down the interior with a damp cloth to remove grime. Leave the door open for a few hours to dry and let additional odors escape

Coming Up!

Next week we will have an update from Al Norton, Rental Manager for Prudential Unlimited Realty as well as market updates to help prepare you for the winter months. Don’t forget to come in, call or visit us at PrudentialUnlimited.com for all your Real Estate needs in Boston, Brookline, Jamaica Plain and the surrounding areas.

           

Also, to learn more about our ongoing FIRST TIME HOME BUYER SEMINARS and other educational services we provide, please CLICK HERE

September First Survival Guide 2012

If you’ve never been in Boston on September First, congratulations! You have successfully avoided what I’d like to call a circus, except that would be an insult to circuses! To say that the city is a chaotic mess is an understatement of epic proportions and if you can avoid it you should do so at all costs. This year, it is likely to be worse than usual since 9/1 falls on a weekend, and not just any weekend but Labor Day weekend, so the madness will be spread out over 72+ hours.

This basic punch list isn’t for the new student moving in, but for those of us who already call Boston home… with some simple planing and a little patience, you’ll see the other side of Sept. 1 with little or to no stress.

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1. DON’T MOVE YOUR CAR UNTIL TUESDAY.

If you live in a part of Greater Boston with on-street parking and you have a parking space on Friday night, you will lose it if you move it. There will be many, many moving vans and extra cars over those three days and if you give up an on-street spot, the odds of getting it (or any space near it) back are minimal.

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2. REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU PARK, DON’T DRIVE IN THE CITY

It’s the perfect storm of bad driving – people behind the wheel of vehicles (U-Haul’s, moving vans, trucks) they don’t usually drive navigating tricky neighborhoods they aren’t familiar with – and you don’t want to be stuck behind them.

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3. DO YOUR SHOPPING NOW!

While you may just need a few items, all these new people have entire kitchens, pantries, and dorm rooms to stock with food, drinks, and various household items, meaning supermarkets, Targets, CVS, and Wal-Mart are likely to be overflowing with customers and light on inventory. Get your gallon of milk, loaf of bread, Clorox Wipes, Pepsi Max, and Hot Pockets now so you don’t have to do battle with someone who’s got two full carts and trying to use the self-checkout.

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4. STICK TO LOCALLY OWNED RESTAURANTS & BUSINESSES.

Again, there will be 1000’s of new-to-the-city folks plus their friends and family that have come to town to help with the move, and those people are much more likely to go with national chain restaurants & businesses they are familiar with than the neighborhood places you already know are much better.

Some of our Favs : FuGaKyu, Temptations Cafe, The Purple Cactus, CafeNation

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5. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT 300,000 STUDENTS HERE.

Boston’s population grows by almost 300,000 every fall, that means a change of pace for the entire academic year and more considerations need to be taken for Boston’s full time residents. If you know what is coming then you are ahead of the curve. With that know-how, take a break this weekend, spend some time out doors, with the family and or even away from the city.

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Sure, traffic is going to be much worse with school back in session (and if you think driving is bad then, wait until the first snow of the season, which for some new Bostonians will be the first snow they’ve EVER driven in) but overall, things calm down and people start to learn the in’s

and out’s of the city and wrap their heads around the concept that cars in the rotary have the right of way. Things will get easier, I promise, and having Survived September First just makes that transition even easier.

For more information on how to handle the rush, to give us your input on surviving September First or for ideas on where to go to avoid it all together, remember to follow us socially!

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Next week we will be discussing a few DIY quick tips for those moving into new homes and apartments this fall. Also, be looking out for our FALL/WINTER give-aways featuring Trader Joes, Home Depot and more!