Good Boston Living Blog

Condo kitchen

Sometimes it's wise to price low in order to go high. When we dropped the listing price from $445K to $425K, the home sold for $475K.

Over the past five years, Boston area real estate has been in steep demand, with unprecedented competition among homebuyers and continuous increases in home values.

In sought-after locations like Boston's Jamaica Plain, inventory–or the availability of homes–and buyer competition remain tight year-round. Even during the typically "slower" winter months, homes for sale will receive multiple offers in a very short time frame.

But even in a tight market environment, timing and price sensitivity still prevail. What buyers will pay–or compete for–always depends on:

  • a home's location, condition, and
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Wood carved spoons at JP Open Studios, Eliot SchoolWood carved spoons by Doug Paret at JP Open Studios, Eliot School

Whether you’re looking to add art to your living space or shopping early for holiday gifts, you’re bound to find art to suit your taste at open studios throughout Boston this fall.

Charleston Sarjeant during JP Open Studios at the Eliot SchoolSeptember

South End

Saturday, September 16
Sunday, September 17
11 am–6 pm
Website: https://useaboston.com/

Jamaica Plain

Saturday, September 23
Sunday, September 24
11 am–6 pm
Website: http://jpopenstudios.com/

JP Open Studios at the Eliot SchoolThe Eliot School is one of many locations for the JP Open Studios.

Roxbury

Saturday, September 30
Sunday, October 1
11 am–5 pm
Website: https://www.discoverroxbury.org/

Basket weaving at JP Open Studios at the Eliot SchoolOctober

Fort Point

Friday, October 13, 4–7 pm (Preview)
Saturday, October 14
Sunday, October 15
12–6 pm
Website:

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Collins Cove, Salem, MA

A client of mine is trading her Boston condo for a historic spot in Salem. As I sat at Milk & Honey Green Grocer for a bite to eat after the inspection, I came to appreciate why my client was drawn to this city by the sea.

Salem is known for the 17-century witch trials and Halloween festivities, but you can enjoy it any time of the year. If you’re looking for a fun summer day trip, consider heading north to Salem.

You don’t even need your car—take the ferry or train from Boston and once there, you can rent a bike from Zagster bike share.

Water activities

Salem offers easy access to the water with several options:

  • kayaking from any number of Salem’s public beaches and parks
  • Winter Island and Waikiki Beach, where you can camp and
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Deck and garden

I love when we get to do matchmaking. My colleague Jay and I were preparing to bring this listing to market, when an out-of-state buyer of mine came into the picture: a retired couple from Vermont relocating to be near their grandchildren.

Front door with old wagon wheelAs they pondered their transition from rural Vermont farm life back to the city, I realized they needed to see this special home in Roslindale's Parkway neighborhood.

Quaint and seemingly modest from the street, the home is expansive, and its corner property has the width and depth of two house lots—more than half of it steeped in greenery. My buyers love dogwoods; this house has two. Plus towering cypresses, a Japanese maple, an American cherry, blueberry bushes and grapevines.

The view from the upstairs

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Greenway Carousel, Ben Gebo PhotographyGreenway Carousel, Ben Gebo Photography

Summer in Boston is a great time to explore the city. Whether movies, music, or ziplining (yes, there's urban ziplining) is your thing, Boston gives you plenty of reasons to stay in town.

Events & Activities

Boston Pops 4th of July Show

Be sure to get to the Hatch Shell early to grab a spot to see the Boston Pops and fireworks show, along with guests Melissa Etheridge, Andy Grammer, and Leslie Odom, Jr.  If you want just the show and fewer crowds, the dress rehearsal on Monday is open to the public.

Details

Dress rehearsal: July 3, 8 pm
Concert: July 4, 8 pm
Fireworks: July 4, 10:30 pm
Hatch Shell, Esplanade
Also broadcasted on radio and TV

July Fourth Fireworks, Kyle Klein PhotographyJuly Fourth Fireworks, Kyle Klein Photography

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Solar panels on a house roof

Using solar energy is increasingly a viable option for many, even condo-dwellers, renters, and those with imperfect or shaded roofs. Here are four different ways to make use of solar-generated power for any living arrangement.

Buying solar panels

Homeowners can get the most savings in the long term from buying their own solar panel array. To buy solar panels,

  • homeowners must own their roof,
  • the roof should be in good condition,
  • there needs to be enough sun exposure, and
  • the configuration, pitch, and style of the roof must support construction of panels.

Not only can homeowners use the energy for their own electrical use, but if there is a surplus of energy, it can be sold back to the utility. For now, that happens in the

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Sunflowers in urban garden

I know people who can't wait to get into their garden each spring. Getting their hands in dirt is a soulful experience. 

In Boston, you don't have to have your own plot to experience the rewards of gardening. From community gardens to pots on a deck, urban dwellers have a variety of choices.

If you’re new the gardening or looking to grow your skills, Boston Natural Areas Network, an affiliate of the Trustees of Reservations, offers classes, such as Vegetable Gardening 101, Water-Wise Gardening (next one is June 7 in Roxbury), and Garden Mixology (June 14 in JP).

Urban homesteading

For those who have some patch of dirt to call their own, many enjoy making use of backyard soil for flower beds alongside vegetable patches.

If you’re growing

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Stack of luggage

Heading out of town this summer season? Before you go, take these steps to prep your home so your return home is as relaxing as the vacation.

Get a little help from your friends

The best option for your home is to have someone stay there while you are away. It may thwart break-ins and they can address any home emergencies that pop up while you are away.

If you don’t have someone staying, the next best option is to have a friend or neighbor regularly check in on your home.

Have them raise and lower shades or open and close curtains in your home while you’re gone to enhance the impression that someone is at home.

If you have a driveway, ask your friends to park their cars there occasionally during your absence to make it appear as though

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In celebrating the Eliot School of Fine & Applied Arts, of which I'm a trustee, I emceed our 02130 Party fundraiser in April. Hosted in a stately pre-Civil War home, the house was packed with Jamaica Plain neighbors––a lively outpouring of support for the school's mission to bring art-making to all.

Among the afternoon's highlights, we announced two new scholarships, named for long-time volunteer trustees Marilyn Mase and Charlie Fox (each to be matched by a generous donor). Tuition covers only a portion of the extensive work the school accomplishes throughout Boston, including bringing woodworking and art classes to those who can't get to The Eliot -- working in over twenty public schools and community centers.

We're growing! It's an exciting time

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 How to use gift funds for your loan down payment

Gift money: stack of money wrapped in a bow

As I prepare homebuyers to navigate Boston's hyper-competitive markets––whether they're first-timers or multi-homeowners––I inform them that family money has become a significant force behind area home sales. (More than half of my buyer clients are using family funds of some kind.) With inventory super-tight and competition quite stiff among homebuyers, those who can are marshaling extra funds to support higher-priced (and often low-contingency) purchases.

If you're a buyer planning to purchase with a loan, keep in mind that other competing buyers may be tapping funds from retirement accounts or borrowing from family trusts (in some cases, allowing them to buy in all cash, and then get a mortgage

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