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Can I Sell My Home in the Winter?

Can I Sell or Rent My Home in the Winter? Its a legitimate question here in Boston, with temperatures dipping close to & below zero on some days (like today!) While there aren’t as many buyers or renters looking, it certainly IS possible to sell or rent your home in the winter!

Here are some tips if you are deciding to sell or rent out your current home in the winter months:

  1. Take photos early! If you are planning on selling your home in the winter, try to take photos before the piles of snow arrive. If you must take photos in the winter, some freshly fallen snow can add some charm to your photo. Just watch out for icicles/ice dams, which are a turn-off for potential buyers/renters.
  2. Schedule showings/open houses early! Early in the day. With the sun setting early in the winter, you want to make sure your prospective buyers/renters are viewing in the best light possible. I recommend before 3pm to make sure they can see everything in the daylight.
  3. Keep the Heat On! When prospective buyers/renters are viewing your home, make sure the heat is on at a comfortable level.
  4. Keep it Clean! Between snow, sleet, salt and mud, its definitely more difficult to keep your home clean in the winter. Make sure you are prepared to clean not only before showings and open houses, but after the prospective buyers/renters leave. Your Realtor also may provide boot coverings or a boot tray so their client’s shoes don’t leave a mess behind.

And if Winter just isn’t your thing, there’s no harm in waiting until Springtime.

Contact our agents today and see how we can help you sell or rent your home!

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7 Months Until September 1st!

September 1st. This date doesn’t mean much to many people outside the Boston area. But here in Boston, we all know what day it is. Its move in day! 

Many students and professionals will lock down their September 1st apartments far in advance. In fact, some people already have! However, the majority of September listings will hit the market about 6 months in advance, so around March 1st. 

How can you make sure you find the best listings first?

Add your name to our Wait List! Its easy. Answer a few questions so we know what exactly it is you’re looking for, and come March, you’ll be one of the first few to get access to our exclusive listings. 

You can see what properties we specialize in and click to add your name to the Blackstone Wait List here: http://blackstonewilliams.com/props/

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Let it Snow!

With our first significant snowfall of 2016, it’s time to get excited for winter! With over 100″ of snow in Boston’s snowiest winter ever last year (2015), we have plenty of photos from around the city to remind us of that winter.

This week, broker Michelle Gillard shares her favorite photos from last winter. This collage includes snow falling in the Boston Public Garden, the middle row is the Boston harbor with floating chunks of ice looking out to the downtown Boston skyline right above a photo of an almost unrecognizable Boston Public Garden completely covered in snow! You can just barely see the bridge you go under on the swan boats and you walk over to cross into the Boston Common. 

Not only was there a ton of snow, but it was a very frigid winter!

The last column of photos features the statue of George Washington in the Public Gardens with downtown in the background covered in snow, a shot over the North River at Norris Reservation in Norwell (a great place to snowshoe!), and a snowy look at the State House.

We hope we have some more recent snowy photos to share with you soon! Next week, seasoned Realtor Susan Macomber will share her favorite photos from last winter, and perhaps from this winter if we get the snow we are expecting this weekend!

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Pt. 2: End of Year Reflections

PART TWO: As we end of 2015 and kickoff, we thought it would be a good time for our agents to reflect on their highlights this year.

Today, we’ve asked seasoned Realtor Susan Macomber about her favorite real estate moments in 2015:

 

It was your first year at Blackstone Williams, and you made your first sale! Tell us a little about it.

 I sold a house to my very own sister. Has anyone ever told you not to do business with family? Listen to them! Joking aside, I am very grateful that I was given the opportunity to help my sister and brother-in-law find their first home! It was a wonderful learning experience for all of us. Their market was very competitive so it was such a relief to finally close. I am excited to share in the memories they create in their new home, and I am excited to help others find a new home, too!

 

What was your favorite apartment that you rented that was managed by Blackstone Williams? 

I had to think about this one for a while, but I’m going to go with the first apartment I ever rented. Extra points for being my first. Extra points for how excited my client was. It was a really cool loft style studio at 399 Marlborough Street. Marlborough Street is a picture perfect, residential road, lined with trees and brownstones. It’s one of the most desirable streets to live on in Boston’s Back Bay. With the lofted platform that can fit a queen size mattress, it leaves the main space open for a living room. It’s a brilliant way to make the most of a studio and not waste any space. The outgoing tenant had a lovely setup with minimalist decor, and the incoming tenant couldn’t wait to move in.

 

What was your favorite apartment that you rented that was not managed by Blackstone Williams? 

 I recently had the pleasure of working with a young couple that was relocating from Watertown to be closer to their places of work in Back Bay. I showed them three places that were all really nice and almost exactly what they were looking for. We went back and looked at all three places for a second time because they just couldn’t decide. The first was closest to their work and possibly the largest. The second had in-unit laundry and an awesome roof deck. The third had the best kitchen and area amenities.  It honestly felt like an episode of house hunters! I knew whichever place they decided on they’d be happy in, which makes my job easy and rewarding. The tough part was making that decision! In the end, they went with the third option because of its proximity to grocery stores, shops, and the gym.

 

What neighborhoods do you expect to see growth in 2016? 

 I think a better question would be ‘what neighborhoods do I expect not to grow?’ and the answer would be none! Boston is booming. There is no better way to describe it. There is new development in virtually every neighborhood. Take a peak at the Boston Redevelopment Authority’s website to get an idea of the current and upcoming projects. Here’s a quote straight from their blog, “We close out the year [2015] with an estimated $7.4 billion worth of construction underway that will lead to 14 million square feet of new development (the equivalent of about a dozen Prudential Buildings!).” With prices continuing to rise, we’re seeing residents (predominantly young professionals) move further from the city center and developers following thereafter. In the coming years, I think even the unlikely suspects will have vastly different landscapes. In East Boston commercial and residential real estate is being snatched up quickly. This will likely expand to Winthrop and Chelsea. The revival of the South End will continue to spread through Roxbury, which is evident with the changes taking place in Dudley Square. According to The Boston Globe, “[m]illennials make up 25 percent of the population of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan” which has momentously grown since 2000. Of the city’s 75 new liquor licenses, 60 are restricted to those neighborhoods as a way to increase business and appeal. Quincy, Roslindale and Brighton all have projects underway as well. Not mention downtown Boston continues to be revamped. Like I said, Boston is booming! Everywhere! Make sure to take some photos of Boston’s skyline for your memorabilia, because sooner than later it won’t look the same.

 

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End of Year Reflections from Our Agents

As we approach the end of 2015, we thought it would be a good time for our agents to reflect on their highlights this year.

Today, we’ve asked Broker Michelle Gillard about her favorite real estate moments in 2015:

What was your favorite apartment that you rented that was managed by Blackstone Williams? My favorite apartment that I rented were actually 2 of the same floor plan – 73 Park Drive, Apt #20 and 73 Park Drive, Apt #14. These apartments are identical floor plans, but #20 is top floor & #14 is on the 3rd floor. These were my favorite apartments that I rented because I absolutely LOVE this floor plan!

These apartments are oversized studios – they feature a full sized kitchen with a park view, a bathroom with a park view & a huge living area with an alcove, huge closet & again, breathtaking park views from 3 windows! That’s right, all 5 windows of this floor plan lookout over the Fens Park’s Keliher Rose Garden, and beyond that you see the back of the beautiful historic Museum of Fine Arts (MFA.) There is a separated entryway space which I like to think of as a “mud room,” great for extra storage, hanging coats, shoes, etc & this is the only space in the apartment without windows overlooking the park.

We actually have another apartment with this same floor plan available for a January move-in on the 2nd floor! Its a beauty: 73 Park Drive, Apt #7 

What was your favorite apartment that you rented that was not managed by Blackstone Williams? This one was on K Street in Southie. It was a one bedroom top floor apartment in a owner occupied duplex. It had great updates and was a short walk to the beach & Broadway! My client absolutely loved it & she is still happy living there!

I would say my other favorite was my own apartment in Jeffries’ Point neighborhood of East Boston, which I moved into this past January. Its also within an owner occupied duplex & is near the best Eastie has to offer! The Harbor Walk, the Shipyard, Maverick Square & a quick bike ride or ride to Constitution Beach to relax & watch the planes takeoff from Logan. I’ve become an East Boston expert, and since then I’ve especially loved showing clients homes for rent & sale in the area. What I personally think is even more exciting about East Boston right now is that in Spring 2016, the bike path that connects the Greenway to Constitution Beach will be open, along with tons of new construction in the area, some of it will be ready for 2016!

What neighborhoods do you expect to see growth in 2016? Definitely East Boston, especially Jeffries’ Point. There are about 3 projects going on within a 5 minute walk of my front door, and even more beyond that. I’m excited for the Seville to open, which will feature a great view over the water. We saw a lot of growth & investment this year and I expect it will continue. South Boston has been very popular with young professionals and it will continue to be, especially now that the secret’s out that Southie beaches are actually swim-able! 

Back Bay has some great development going on as well, and I expect it will remain as popular as ever. Fenway has had a ton of growth & development as well, most of which is now open. City Target has been a real game changer!

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Susan’s Summa-Time Snacks

As the title of this blog post alludes, I’m a big fan of alliterations and pretending I have a Boston accent. I’m also a big fan of food. Given it was an 80 degree day in June and I had to transport my treats to the office, I chose foods that could be served cold, were relatively easy to eat, and something that wouldn’t take too long to prepare in the morning. After gaining some inspiration on Pinterest, I decided to put an aesthetically pleasing spin on some classic combinations. Remember: the presentation of food is just as important as the taste of food for the artist-chef. 

Are you heading to a BBQ or dinner party this summer? Here are three simple recipes that are sure to wow your friends and family. Their eyes will pop, their tastebuds will tingle and it’ll be no sweat off your back!

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Prosciutto Melon Bites

Prosciutto and melon are a classic combination! I chose Cantaloupe. Why didn’t the two melons run away to get married? Because they cantaloupe! Pretty standard.. but you could use whichever melon you fancy, really. I paired it with mozzarella, basil and balsamic nectar. I stole that combination from a favorite of mine — Caprese salad. You could also use goat cheese and fig jam for a sweeter alternative. Check Pinterest or use your imagination, the options are endless.

I had no clue how to cut the cantaloupe in a functional way so I just winged it. I used a cookie dough scooper so the melon was slightly rounded, but squares who have done just fine. I layered a large basil leaf on top of the melon, then somehow folded the prosciutto in a way that would hold two mini mozzarella balls. Then I stuck a fork in it! No, seriously I stuck a mini fork in it to hold it all together — plus it looked cool! You could use regular toothpicks and make “skewers” as well. I topped it off with a drizzle of the balsamic glaze.

To be honest there was minimal method to my madness. Sometimes creating is about trial and error.

 

Cucumber Cups with Soba Noodles

I can’t take any credit for this, except for the actual execution I suppose. I found this on Pinterest and made no apparent alterations to the recipe. All the credit goes here.

I cut the cucumbers, hollowed out the centers to make “cups”, and filled it with chilled Soba noodles that were tossed in a light sauce made of rice vinegar, sesame seed oil, soy sauce and green onions. You can get the actual recipe with measurements by clicking on that link, but it’s really just that easy. It was my first time having Soba noodles, which are buckwheat noodles. I approve! Also fun fact – despite the name, Buckwheat is not related to wheat (Wikipedia), and (as long as you get Soba noodles that are %100 buckwheat — read your labels!) they are gluten free! 

 

Watermelon Salad

Watermelon, cucumber, mint, lime juice and feta – classic combination! Especially for the summer.

I decided to make my salad bowls edible. Similar to the cucumber cups, I chopped the watermelon into cubes and scooped out the middle. There is some tweaking to be done on the size of these. I could have gone smaller to make them more like finger foods or bite sized, or maybe larger to be eaten with a fork. Also the ratio of watermelon to salad was a little off, so I’ll work on that for next time. Regardless, they were a hit! So juicy and fresh.

I bought all fresh produce from Whole Foods. Cut a whole watermelon myself (they’re juicer that way!) and used the cucumber guts from my cucumber cups, as to not waste precious food. Squeezed some fresh lime juice and chopped up mint. I also bought a block of local feta cheese that I cut into small squares. Shapes and colors were a big part of my presentation.

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The Verdict

Overall, I got the thumbs up from my colleagues. Even the President of Blackstone Williams Properties himself approved! Looks like my mailroom days will be over soon…

 

Susan Macomber is a three and a half month veteran Realtor, winner of the 2015 Bulldog Award, and ready to find you your next home!

 

 

 

 

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Fenway Favorites

The Fenway neighborhood was already a Boston area favorite as home of the Red Sox, but with the addition of several new apartment complexes, rumors of a Wegman’s supermarket and the East Coast’s first CityTarget (That’s right, a Target that’s actually larger than your typical target!) Fenway continues to climb the chart’s as a desirable neighborhood.

Fenway features the Fens Park, a huge, gorgeous park featuring ball fields, a track, fields, public gardens, and the beautiful Kelleher Rose Garden. The neighborhood is also, of course, home to Fenway Park. 

The schools officially known as the “Colleges of the Fenway” include Emmanuel College, Mass College of Art & Design, MCPHS, Simmons College, Wentworth Institute of Technology and Wheelock College. Other schools that sit on the border of the Fenway and are an easy walk include Berklee College of Music, Northeastern University and Harvard Medical Campus. The Longwood Medical Area, home to world-class hospitals and medical centers also neighbors Fenway.

You can call Fenway your home living in our professionally managed building at 73 Park Drive. We have several beautiful 2 bedroom apartments still available for 9/1/15!

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Best Neighborhoods for NECO 2015

The 2015 NECO Housing Fair is fast approaching! Finding housing in the booming Boston rental market can be a daunting task, but we are here to help!

For September 2015 Apartments, You Can Expect:

Back Bay: Walking distance to NECO!
Many studios in Back Bay are efficiencies, meaning they have a kitchenette, small living area, and are great for one person.
Studios: $1500+
1BR’s: $2200+
2BR’s: $3300+

Fenway/Kenmore: Longer walk, quick bike ride or short train trip to NECO.
Apartments in Fenway are typically larger than in Back Bay. Most have full size kitchens.
Studios: $1500+
1BR’s: $2200+
2BR’s: $2500+
3BR’s: $3200+

Brookline: Easy commute on the C or D line trains. About 20-35 minutes, depending on location. Generally, there are less apartment buildings and more “home-like” multi-families, making studios/1BR’s harder to find, but multi-bedorom apartments much easier to find.
1BR’s: $1800+, few options
2BR’s: $2300+
3BR’s: $2700+
4BR’s: $3600+, few options

Allston: Allston is on the B line. We highly recommend the 57 bus, which also follows Commonwealth Ave, as a faster, less expensive, and more reliable alternative to the B line. The 57 bus takes you straight to Kenmore Square, a short walk from NECO. Commute times around 20-30 minutes.
Studios: $1400+
1BR’s: $1600+
2BR’s: $2000+ near the T
3BR’s: $2500+

NECO Students : Please contact us to schedule showings before, after and during your housing fair on June 5th! We look forward to meeting you there and we are happy to arrange Skype & other apartment tours for those of you who cannot make it that day!