Home Buyer

A homeowner's Best Friend ~ The Spring Cleaning Checklist!

*Please click on image for your complimentary printable Spring Cleaning Checklist

The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming, and the weather is finally beginning to warm. Why? Because springtime is here! and whether you plan to sell this season or simply want to enjoy a clean home, our spring cleaning checklist will help you tackle your most daunting projects. Commit to completing three tasks every day and by the end of the month, your house will shine like brand new.

Spring Cleaning Checklist Part 1: The Preparation

  • Buy your favorite cleaning products: You won’t be excited to embark on your cleaning extravaganza with a five-year-old bottle of windex and half empty bleach. So head to the store and stock up on essentials.
  • Make appointments in advance: Planning to get your carpets professionally cleaned or hardwood floors refinished? Just be sure to schedule your appointments ahead of time as to not interfere with your personal cleaning agenda.
  • Create an upbeat playlist: Spring cleaning should not be liberating for just your home, it should also be a cathartic experience for yourself. Let decluttering feel good! Create a playlist of your favorite songs to keep you motivated and on task.
  • Replace your linens: After months of dark and dreary whether, brighten up your home with fresh linens. Replace heavy curtains, blankets, and comforters with a lightweight alternative and your home will feel cleaner immediately.
  • Throw it away: Haven’t worn it in six months? Haven’t cooked with it for over a year? Get rid of it! Even better, donate it! Take some advice from decluttering expert Marie Kondo and toss away items that no longer “spark joy” in your life.

Spring Cleaning Checklist Part 2: Mistakes To Avoid

  • Failing to plan ahead: We’ve already discussed the importance of having a plan, so just do it. Don’t waste your time flailing from one project to the next, completing only half of each one. Be specific. Plan out which rooms you’re going to clean, on which day and in which order. (Pro Tip: Tackle the hardest rooms first)
  • Avoiding the deep clean: In the fashion of true spring cleaning, you’re going to have to get your hands dirty if you want results. Don’t avoid those hard to reach areas like ceiling fan blades or under the fridge. When you do it right, you’ll feel accomplished.
  • Hasty scrubbing: If you want all of your expensive cleaning products to reach their full potential, you must live by the mantra: spray and walk away. Shower mold, mineral deposits, dirty grout and rusty appliances are not impossible to clean. Just be sure to use your products as directed and let soap soak into your surfaces before scrubbing.
  • Cleaning windows on a sunny day: Cleaning windows is a must to fulfill an authentic spring cleaning ritual, but if the sun is out, save this project for another day. Window cleaner dries far quicker in the heat, resulting in streak marks across your glass, no matter how hard you squeegee. So before tackling this task, wait until the temperature drops below 65 degrees.

Spring Cleaning Checklist Part 3: The Clean

The Kitchen

The kitchen, also known as the heart of the home, goes through a lot of wear and tear. From expired food, to gnat infested cabinets, this room deserves a thorough scrub down.

  • Remove the contents of every cabinet and drawer. Wipe down both the inside and outside of each space with detergent and a warm cloth. Organize and replace items back in their designated spaces.
  • Sharpen knives.
  • Deep clean cutting boards.
  • Remove crumbs from toaster.
  • Clean microwave and stove.
  • Shine silverware
  • Dust any displayed china.
  • Dust light fixtures, blinds, ceiling fans, and window sills.
  • Scrub the stove.
  • Sweep and mop floors.
  • Wipe down counters
  • De-grease backsplash
  • Shine faucet, sink, and clean the drain.
  • Reseal grout if necessary.

Pro Tip: Start from the top and work your way down to avoid having to re-mop floors as a result of settling dust.

The Bathrooms
Because so much moisture is trapped in your bathroom on a daily basis, the room is a breeding ground for mold. Not to fear, your floor to ceiling clean will stop mold growth in its tracks.

  • Scrub mirror with glass cleaner.
  • Remove all items from vanity and scrub insides with detergent.
  • Replace items back in vanity in an organized fashion and discard expired medicines and products.
  • Clean toilet bowl
  • Remove lid and set from toilet to scrub around seat bolts.
  • Spray anti-mold cleaning agent on shower doors and walls.
  • Wax bathtub.
  • Shine faucets.
  • Dust vent covers.
  • Clear sink and shower drain.
  • Clean window sills.
  • Sweep and mop floors.
  • Wash towels and bathmat in hot water.

Pro Tip: Keep a squeegee in your shower year round to prevent mold growth and mineral deposit build-up to simplify next year’s spring cleaning.

The Bedrooms
From the master bedroom where you spend a majority of your time to the guest room that receives little to no attention, bedrooms collect dust mites and deserve a full overhaul.

  • For each drawer: remove items, dust, replace drawer liner, organize items and return nicely to their dedicated spaces.
  • Donate items you no longer use.
  • Launder bedding in hot water.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on uncovered mattress, wait, and vacuum.
  • Air out mattress pad.
  • Vacuum under bed and behind dressers.
  • Clean out closets.

Pro Tip: If you are uncomfortable using harsh cleaning products in your most intimate spaces, consider going “au naturel” with a DIY cleaner. A lemon juice and salt scrub or a vinegar and water mixture will get the job done.

Everywhere Else

  • Open windows
  • Vacuum dust from baseboards and scrub trim.
  • Vacuum spider webs from corners.
  • Deep clean carpets and rugs, refinish hardwood floors, and shine tile or linoleum surfaces.
  • Dust window screens.
  • Vacuum, sweep, mop (In that order).
  • Spot clean walls.
  • Dust art and light fixtures.
  • Sweep porch.
  • Replace welcome mat.
  • Clean upholstered furnishings.
  • Ensure fire safety by changing the batteries in smoke detectors.

Pro Tip: As you clean, make a list of things you notice you need or that need to be fixed (i.e. out of flour or a chip in the banister). Don’t look at this list until you have completed your entire spring cleaning.

Good luck and happy cleaning! 

*to receive a complimentary printable Spring Cleaning Checklist please click on picture above

North Reading Community Spotlight: PARK AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT

We at Farrelly Realty Group like to say, Real Estate is local and we are as local as the come!  We understand that our clients are not just buying a house but searching for a home within a community they feel they can belong.  We are connected to the communities we serve and want our clients to feel satisfied with their home AND happy in their new community. We will be bringing a new series to you each month called our "Community Spotlight".   The series will highlight different aspects of the community in order to bring you that "hometown" feel right through the your device. So sit back, relax and learn more about the  North Reading and the Park and Recreation Department and all it brings to the residents of North Reading!

 

North Reading Community Spotlight Series- THE HORSESHOE GRILLE

We at Farrelly Realty Group like to say, Real Estate is local and we are as local as the come!   We understand that our clients are not just buying a house but searching for a home within a community they feel they can belong.   We are connected to the communities we serve and want our clients to feel satisfied with their home AND happy in their new community.  We will be bringing a new series to you each month called our  "Community Spotlight".   The series will highlight different aspects of the community in order to bring you that "hometown" feel right through the your device. So sit back, relax and learn more about North Reading and the Horseshoe Grille.  The Horseshoe is one of North Reading's establishments where locals go to enjoy food, drink and entertainment.   We hope to see you around town soon!

 

2018 Real Estate Year in Review

Happy New Year! Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.

Many thanks to each of the community organizations and businesses that contribute to the town on various levels. These organizations contribute to making the Town of North Reading a very welcoming community.  As a life-long resident of North Reading, I have seen our small town grow substantially over the years.  I was fearful at times that it may lose its small town feel and most importantly, its sense of community.  I am happy to report that this has not occurred at all.  The most important aspects of community and caring for all residents, has continued to grow as the town has grown.

Where does North Reading stand regarding the Real Estate market? Well, this past year was a very complex year for Realtors, buyers and sellers. When you compare the Inventory from 2017 to 2018, it has shown a significant decrease in properties that were for sale across town and across all categories.

Here is a look at the North Reading 2018 housing market:

Single Family Homes:

In 2018 there were only 103 total sales in North Reading as compared to 177 in 2017.  The average number of days on the market was 39.62 and the average sale price was $621,800.  This represented a year over year increase of $26,682.  The decrease in available inventory increased the demand among willing and able buyers.  This resulted in an increase of final sale prices.  During the months of March through August we experienced multiple bidding wars on available properties. There was a dip in buyer activity during the weeks of September and early October, but we saw a significant up-tick by mid-October.  This continued right up until the week before Christmas.  We had 15 home closings during the month of December and saw 14 properties receive accepted offers and go under agreement during the final month of the year. There is a definite change occurring in our housing market.  The months during the spring and summer have traditionally been perceived as the prime “Selling Season”.  However, at one point this fall, we had more homes on the market than we did during the spring and summer months. What is the reason for this change? There are multiple reasons for this occurrence.  The primary reason this past year was that the federal government had announced rate hikes.  Several sellers saw what was happening in the earlier market and wanted to sell quickly in order to capitalize on the increased sale prices.

Condominiums:

In 2018 there were 37 total sales in North reading as compared to 53 in 2017.  The average number of days on the market in 2018 was 34.03 as compared to 44.31 in 2017. The average sale price in 2018 was $333,683, which represent an increase of $2,312. The price increase was not that significant given the decrease in inventory. I believe this is partially due to the new “55 Plus” development being built by Pulte Homebuilders on Lowell Street.  These garden style condominiums are being priced at levels which will allow North Reading residents, both past and present, to remain in town or to return to town in order to be closer to family.  I applaud Pulte for having this vision.  This has helped many seniors who otherwise may not be able to afford to stay in town.  

What Type of Market are we in?

 This is also a difficult question to answer due to many contributing factors.  Some properties received multiple offers in short order, which in turn created a bidding war.  However, other properties languished on the market and needed price adjustments before receiving offers.  Pricing your home correctly from the outset is a key factor in a successful and timely transaction.

Buyers today are extremely savvy and take full advantage of the many online resources available to them.  The old saying of “location, location, location” still holds true to this day.  However, a clear education and understanding of the Real Estate market is truly what is needed.  Real Estate is local, and it is not just local to a town, but to its specific neighborhoods.  I forecast that the housing market will continue to be strong and robust in 2019.  I do not foresee the frenzied market and crazy price increases we saw this past year.  I see more of a steady increase as supply continues to be lean and demand continues to be strong. The federal government stated that it will be some time before we see another hike in mortgage rates, which is great news for both buyers and sellers.

As you can see from the numbers, Real Estate continues to be a very wise investment and North Reading continues to be a very desirable community. I attribute this to our award-winning school system and the zoning bylaws that are in place, there continues to be a distinct line between residential and commercial bylaws.   The town’s close proximity to Boston and overall sense of community will always continue to appeal to buyers.

If you are considering a Real Estate transaction or if you have any Real Estate questions, please feel free to give us a call 978-664-3700. I have been a full time Realtor for the past 15 years and have been the most successful Realtor in North Reading for the past 7 years. The Realtors in my office are all North Reading residents and are involved in our community on a number of different levels.   We study the North Reading and surrounding markets daily and keep ourselves up to date with the changes occurring in the market on an ongoing basis. This has allowed us to sell our listings at 98% of original list price and receive multiple offers on 90% of our listings.

Once again, best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.

8 Scams to Watch Out For This Holiday Season

8 Scams to Watch Out For This Holiday Season

The holidays are a happy time for celebrating with family, friends, and co-workers. Unfortunately, this time of year can also be turned sour by a wide variety of clever frauds, unauthorized debit and credit card transactions, and bogus person-to-person scams. By the end of 2015, individuals, retailers, charitable donors, and companies were victimized to the tune of $1.5 billion… and that number is expected to continue to increase.

 

Just as you protect your home with an alarm system, you should set up defenses for your credit and identity. During the holiday season, fraudulent activity spikes, but here’s how to protect yourself from the eight most common scams.

 

Big Data Breeds Data Breaches

 

Big data during the holidays is great for marketers; it's a bonanza of consumer information to use to lure shoppers to Black Friday deals and the like. However, while companies wrangle in the chaos of holiday orders, scammers search for weaknesses in a company's cyber-security. According to a top executive at one of the leading credit bureaus, “Data breaches are inevitable and most consumers are vulnerable to identity theft… especially during the holidays.”

 

The best way to reduce your risk of data breaches is use cash for all your purchases. According to a survey by TransUnion, however, only 20 percent of shoppers plan to pay with cash. If you're part of the 80 percent using plastic, use a credit card instead of a debit card. You have more purchase protection using a credit card than a debit card if a data breach occurs or fraud happens.

 

Other protections from data breaches include:

 

  • Using a low-limit credit card for online purchases so you can detect fraudulent activity.
  • Utilizing services like PayPal to lower the risk of your card information being lost at the retailer.

 

Package Theft

 

E-commerce is great for holiday shoppers… but it's also great for thieves. Last year, Insurancequotes reported that 23 million people had packages stolen at their front door!

 

To prevent this from happening to you, have your packages delivered to your office or delivered to a pick-up area such as a UPS store or Amazon Locker.  You can also set up tracking notifications so that you know when to expect delivery.

 

And while you’re waiting for your packages, be on the lookout for this scam: a note on the front door saying you have a package waiting for pickup. The note asks for a call, often to a pricey number that leaves you on hold for a long period while they collect premium phone rates, or it leads to a person asking for details on your personal information to “verify your identity.” If the note isn’t from a shipper you recognize, or if the Googled number isn’t found, don’t get involved.

 

 

Online Shopping Scams

 

The big brother of package thievery is the online shopping scam. Phony online stores lure shoppers in through searches and online ads, enticing you with low-priced, high-quality items. These “bargains” cost you not only money, but also hours of time trying to fight the fraudulent transaction. To put salt in the wound, once these websites nab your personal information, they often also infect your computer with malware that compromises your login to your online bank.

 

To avoid the pitfalls of the fake online merchant, only purchase from retail names you know and trust. You could also Google the site and look for reviews. Yelp is a legitimate site for reviews as is the Better Business Bureau. Before you make a purchase online, double-check that “https” appears in the URL, which signifies that the site has passed stringent security compliance standards.

 

Poisonous Holiday E-Cards

 

E-cards are popular during the holidays because they’re a free, fun, and easy way to catch up with friends and family members. But beware because it's just as easy for scammers to use fake e-cards to steal your personal information. A lot of fake e-cards you may get are from your hacked address book or the hacked address book of someone you know. At first glance, the card may look legitimate, but once you open it, you've been phished.

 

The only way to avoid this from happening is paying attention to detail. The number one tell of a fake E-card is any kind of misspelling. The URL will have a subtle misspelled word or your friend's name is misspelled. Usually the misspelled word will contain a number: T1msmith@comcast.net for instance.

 

Fake Apps

 

ConsumerAffairs is reporting a huge spike in fake apps. Scammers are using fake retail and product apps found in Apple's App Store to steal unsuspecting consumers' financial information. Many of these thieves rip off company or brand logos to make the fake app look real. So before you get that convenient retail or product app, make sure it's legit.

 

Just as with fake e-cards, fake apps will seem normal until you start looking at the details. Before you download that convenient retail or product app, make sure you check for the following:

 

  • A nonsensical description
  • No reviews
  • No history of previous versions

 

 

Gift Card Scammers

 

Scam artists skim or copy the codes on the back of gift cards before they're bought. After the card has been activated, the scammers drain the card's funds.

 

To prevent yourself from becoming a victim of compromised gift cards, buy gift cards displayed behind store counters, make sure preloaded cards are still loaded, and make sure the protective scratch-off strip is flawless.

 

Malicious Charities

 

During the holiday season we all feel an extra sense of giving. Grifters and thieves play on this sensibility by creating false charities and hitting you up on Twitter, Instagram, and in your e-mail inbox.

 

There are online resources to help you verify the legitimacy of charities. The website Charity Navigator is a non-profit organization that rates over 8,000 U.S-based charities operating throughout the world. Another way to get free reviews and evaluations on national charities is through the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

 

Corrupted Wi-Fi

 

You'll probably hit the mall this holiday for some in-person price checking, and you'll probably have your smartphone, laptop, and/or your iPad with you. Please be careful because skimmers and scammers love to manipulate Wi-Fi signals in places like malls and coffee shops to gather your financial information. These people create Wi-Fi signals that mimic the signal you use, then hack your info when you connect to it.

 

To protect yourself from Wi-Fi manipulators, just don't make online purchases with your credit or debit card when you're in a public space.

 

Who Should You Turn To?

 

If you catch the trouble soon enough, credit or identity fraud can be an inconvenience. If you don’t, however, one instance can have long-term impacts. If, for example, someone bought an appliance using your name while you were trying to refinance your mortgage, then you might not get approved for the loan!

 

If you’re curious to know if you’ve been affected, or if you know your credit is in disrepair and need help fixing it, please let us know so we can refer you to our recommended professionals.