Home Seller

Septoc we all have it, but no one wants to Talk about it....


Living in North Reading we all may be different, but we all have one thing in common; we all have septic systems.  Septic systems although not extremely complex, do cause a lot of anxiety and stress.  Generally, speaking we do not fully understand how it functions, and have no idea what a Title V means and why sellers of Real Estate serviced by a Septic System must have a Title V.  I have decided to bring this “stinky subject” to the forefront to help educate us and to decrease anxiety around the subject of septic systems.

If you are selling your home, that is serviced by a septic system you cannot sell your home without a passing Title V inspection. The inspection is conducted by a licensed inspector both by the state and the town where the system is located. A list of licensed inspectors is available at the Board of Health or call our office and we would be happy to provide you with the approved list.

The Inspector will determine whether your system “passes”, “fails” or “conditionally passes” (requires repairs).

What is a conditional pass?

A conditional pass means that your system will pass if a certain condition is met. A repair or replacement of the distribution box is the most common condition that needs to be met. The inspector would write up his official Title V report with the conditional pass notes outlining the needed replacement of the distribution box. Once the repair is finished the board of Health will issue a Certificate of Compliance which indicates a passing Title V at closing.

The septic system failed, now what?

If the inspection fails, your system must be repaired or replaced.

Failed septic systems can be handled in a real estate sales transaction in two ways. First, the seller can undertake the work and complete it prior to closing, with a full sign off from the Board of Health.  Or, the parties can agree to an escrow holdback to cover the cost of the septic repair plus a contingency reserve,

(generally, one and a half times the total amount), the work is undertaken after closing. Some lenders do not allow for septic holdbacks so make sure your Realtor or Attorney inquires with the buyer’s bank or mortgage company prior to closing.

Prevention is always the best approach with anything and this includes your septic. All systems should be pumped, generally every one to two years. The person who pumps your system should do a quick visual inspection to make sure everything is operating correctly.

I hope you have found this article informative and useful, if you have more in-depth questions about septic, please reach out to your Board of Health or your septic professional. Please feel free to call us at Farrelly Realty Group 978-664-3700 if you have any questions or Real Estate needs.


Outside Maintenance Checklist For Sellers - Curb Appeal (Part 2)

Exterior View Of A HomeIn our prior post focused on the exterior of the home, we covered 17 items on a 30 day list of maintenance tasks associated with the front of your home and the roofline. To fully maximize your home’s exterior curb appeal, however, the side view and backyard must not be ignored. In this post, we'll offer you the remaining tasks for a month's worth of daily maintenance tasks for exterior curb appeal.

Walking the exterior (the side view)

Buyers interested in a home with a yard are likely to walk the exterior of the property. Give proper attention to the home from every angle.

18. Lawn: Seed or patch scant areas and ensure the lawn is well manicured and cleanly edged in spring, summer or fall. If it’s winter, clear snow and ice to expose dry pavement for safety, and sweep away remnants of salt and sand. Neatness counts!

19. Banish the tools of labor: While your yard should look like an oasis, you don’t want buyers to see the evidence of all the work  involved. Remove and neatly store hoses, rakes and garden tools out of sight. 

20. Critters: Nature lover or no, it’s best to keep wildlife away from property you’re trying to sell. Remove bird feeders to minimize rodents.

21. Fence: If your property has a fence, walk the perimeter with a critical eye. Replace any damaged areas and freshen up paint if needed. Lubricate gate hardware so it operates easily. Since a possible buyer will pause to open the date, be sure that the area around the gate is neat and well-kept.

22. Trim and window sills: Wood rots over time and must be replaced. In particular, look out for spongy window skills and peeling paint and replace trim with new wood or fabricated wood.

23. Windows: Realtors agree that sparkling windows (in and out) are a basic must for selling a home. If you don’t want to climb ladders or hire a window washer for the exterior, keep both feet safely on the ground with cleaning products that attach to your garden hose.

The backyard: An oasis or a hiding spot?

An inviting backyard can help a possible buyer visualize themselves in your home. Maximize your assets with a backyard cleanup.

24. Deck or patio: Brighten up your deck with a pressure wash for the flooring and rails. If you have a patio, the paver stones benefit from a power wash to remove dirt, moss and growth.

25. Outdoor furniture: Remove any furniture that’s worn, faded or mismatched, and keep the space neat and uncrowded.

26. Grill: Cover the grill and remove any grilling utensils or cleaning tools.

27. Back door, side door or sliding doors: Give all exterior doors the same attention as the front entry door – clean, polish hardware and make the glass sparkle!

28. Lighting: Be sure it’s in working order and clean or replace any pitted or unsightly fixtures.

29. Bulkhead: If your basement has a bulkhead, lubricate the mechanism so it opens smoothly.

30. Poop matters: While over 50% of Massachusetts homes include a dog (source: Dogtime), you don’t want a potential buyer to step in the evidence of yours. Be sure you’ve cleaned up after your dog and store the pooper scooper away with the garden and yard supplies.

The key to tackling any big job is to chip away at small tasks. Tackle one item on this list each day to get your home sales-ready! If you need help with specialists to help you through the process, contact us or see our preferred vendors listings.


Spring Cleaning: 6 Steps For An Organized, Clutter-Free Home

spring cleaning your homeIf you’re like most New Englanders, this is the time of year that you begin the countdown to spring. Warmer temperatures and lightweight jackets are on the horizon, so for many homeowners it’s a good time for some spring cleaning.

And if you’re getting ready to sell your home, cleaning up and purging items that you no longer need is a must-do no matter what time of year it is. Our six-step guide will help you declutter and reorganize your home before the flowers bloom.

1. Sort

It’s amazing how quickly items can accumulate in your home. From kitchen trinkets to old clothes that no longer fit (or never did!), these items can take up a lot of space. For a thorough purging, tackle one room at a time. Go through every cabinet and drawer in each room and if you come across an item that is broken, expired, a duplicate or no longer used, put it in your purge pile. Be disciplined; if you're torn about whether to purge an item, err on the side of toss.

Realtor.com suggests keeping an eye out for common offenders such as old linens, souvenirs, kitchen gadgets and toiletries. Sort items into four piles: recycle, donate, sell or trash. Depending on the extent of your clutter (and whether you're purging in preparation for a move), you may  need to create such piles room by room. Otherwise, wait until you've conquered each room (including the basement and attic) to sort into recycle, donate sell or trash piles.

2. Recycle

Why not do a good deed for the planet while you get organized at home? Even items that seem like trash -- empty boxes in the basement, kitchen storage containers missing a lid, broken appliances and date electronics – can be recycled.

For a full list of items that can be recycled check out this A-to-Z guide from Real Simple or contact your local Department of Public Works for details about what can be recycled through your town. And if you want to replace some of those dated or broken items, Best Buy offers an electronics and appliances recycling program that includes an option to trade in items for a Best Buy gift card.

3. Donate

What may be old and unused in your home may be just what someone else needs but can’t quite afford. Donating items is not only a great way to purge, but it’s an opportunity to help other’s in your community.

If you have outgrown baby items such as clothes, bathtubs and swings, the Hallmark Health Mother’s Helping Mother’s Program accepts donations for their free store. The Mission of Deeds in Reading is a wonderful community resource that accepts household donations for those in need. Animal shelters and boarding facilities often welcome and appreciate old linens including quilts, blankets and towels. You can also offer items for free via online community or yard sale groups (see below).

4. Sell It

As they say, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. In today's digital world you can pass along your unwanted items and make a little extra cash without setting up everything in your front yard. If you’re a Facebook user, consider the marketplace where you can list items for sale, or join an online yard sale group by simply searching your town name and online yard sale. For example, Reading, MA Online Yard Sale and North Shore Online Yard Sale are just two local options. In addition to using social media, Craigslist and online consignment stores are other resources for easy online selling.

5. Get Rid of It

While recycling, donating or selling unwanted items are good initial options, don’t hesitate to dispose of items that you no longer need or want. Visit your town website for regulations on what types of items can be disposed of curbside or at trash collections centers. If your purging effort is substantial, renting a dumpster or dumpster bag are also good options. 

6. Reorganize

Once you’ve purged and decluttered your home, set yourself up for a quick and easy spring cleaning next year by getting reorganized. Like the sorting process, approach the reorganization process room by room. Are you making the most of the space in your living room? Can you eliminate clutter by adding more storage in the kitchen? Do the bookshelves in your office need reorganizing? Are hair products and makeup taking over your bathroom counter? HGTV offers some great tips to help you declutter one room at a time.

Sorting, purging and organizing is indeed a process and not a one-day event. Using the room by room approach will certainly make your spring cleaning less daunting and perhaps more satisfying.

The Outside Matters: A Calendar to Serious Curb Appeal

CalendarIt’s no big deal ... just a bit of peeling trim, slightly tarnished door hinges or a few chipped paver stones on the walkway. Seeing them daily, it’s easy to stop noticing the little blemishes around your home. But an interested buyer is not only likely to notice the little things, but also to make the leap to presume that your home is not well maintained.

As well-documented on television shows like Property Brothers and Love It Or List It, readying your home to sell at a great price is a substantial endeavor. Cleanup, purging and staging efforts are not limited to the interior of the home.

Prospective buyers approaching your home from the street take in your property in a sweeping glance. And then? They judge it … promising or underwhelming, impressive or disappointing.

Over a series of posts, we’re providing a month’s worth of maintenance tasks to maximize your home’s exterior curb appeal. Check off one daily and your home will show beautifully.

First impressions are lasting (the street view)

As your home’s possible new owners emerge from their car and approach the front door, there are dozens of ways you can impress – or disappoint.

  1. Mailbox and post: Assess your mailbox with a critical eye: Does it need to be cleaned or replaced? Is the house number faded or worn? Would the post benefit from fresh paint or should it be upgraded?
  2. Driveway: Fill driveway cracks and re-seal the driveway.
  3. Front walkway: Is there moss or growth between your paver stones leading to the front door? Remedy with a power washing -- and keep moss from coming back with a product like Wet & Forget.
  4.  A well-lit view: If you have walkway lighting, is it in good working condition? Replace any burned-out bulbs or broken fixtures.
  5. Yard décor: Different strokes for different folks. Though you may be partial to garden gnomes, holiday flags and birdbaths, they’re a matter of personal taste. Best to pack these goodies away for your next home.
  6. Front steps: As the potential buyer grasps the railing, will he note that the paint is peeling? Check it yourself and take action before putting your home on the market.
  7. Storm door: If you have a glass storm door, make sure it sparkles with a weekly vinegar and water cleaning inside and out.
  8. Exterior entry: Lots of opportunities here! First, vacuum the exterior door and trim carefully to remove loose debris and cobwebs. Then wash both the glass and the surface of the door thoroughly.
  9. Front door: If your metal door has oxidized, restore the luster with a product like Everbrite
  10. Fixtures: Since they’re exposed to the elements, more than likely your door knob, door knocker and doorbell need some love. Exterior light fixtures can pit over time; replace if needed or spruce them up with a cleaning and some polish.
  11. Door mat: Yes, it’s just for wiping off snow, leaves and mud, but a new doormat is a must if yours isn’t in pristine condition. 
  12. Garage: If your home has a garage, make it an asset. Lubricate the door opening mechanisms so they operate smoothly and without excessive noise.

Up, up (but hopefully not away!)

Approaching your home on foot, cast a look upward for a bird’s eye view. Consider the following potential concerns from a prospective buyer.

  1. Roof: Snow-packed roofs in winter can melt to an ugly surprise in March. A moldy roof sets off alarm bells for buyers; quell their concerns with a pressure washing.
  2. Evidence of Christmas past: Remove and dispose of remnants of holiday lights, wreath hooks and faded decorations.  
  3. Gutters: The downside of our colorful autumn leaves in New England is that many end up in the gutters. A gutter cleanout takes a professional about 15 minutes – and helps maintain your home’s  condition. Banish debris-filled gutters with an annual cleanout.
  4. Overgrown trees: Remove any dead tree limbs and trim overgrown shrubbery.
  5. Shutters: Are yours in good condition? Repair, pressure wash or paint as needed.

Start chipping away and soon enough your home will start to display some serious curb appeal.  And stay tuned for more ... in Curb Appeal Part 2 we'll offer some great tips for tackling the side view and backyard. Check back often or follow us on Facebook to be sure you don't miss it. 

Selling a House to a Family Member: Tax Implications and Experts You Should Hire

House KeysIf you're thinking of selling your house to a family member, first, congratulations are in order. You've found a buyer! The most strenuous part of the home-selling process is already over. So now what? How do you actually sell a piece of real estate to a member of your family?

To hire — or not hire — a real estate agent

It's all in the family, right? It can be tempting to bypass the regular process of hiring a real estate agent to broker the deal. And indeed, this is one of the very few home sale circumstances when it could be an acceptable plan.

Then again, even seemingly simple and straightforward real estate transactions can get contentious, and that's really ugly when the buyer is a family member. Hiring an agent as an informed third party to help navigate the negotiation process can actually make things easier -- and keep the family happier.

Although agents usually work on a commission basis, if you and your family member have already agreed on the price, you may be able to find one who will work for a flat fee to help you through the process. After all, the agent doesn't need to spend time marketing the property—you already have a buyer!

Hire an appraiser

Even if you've agreed upon a selling price, you'll need to have the home appraised if your buyer is seeking a mortgage. Lenders typically require appraisals to ensure the value of the home is high enough to match the value of the mortgage.

Michele Lerner, author of "Homebuying: Tough Times, First Time, Any Time," recommends getting the appraisal done before signing any paperwork, just in case you find out you're undervaluing your home.

Hiring a lawyer is highly recommended

Another person the experts say you must hire is a real estate attorney to help guide you through the selling process. A lawyer can provide clarity if any legal issues arise during the sale of the home. Typically, they also perform a title search to ensure there aren't any liens on the property and determine any zoning restrictions that prohibit your family member from making future improvements on the house.

What about gift tax?

You may want to give a family member a break on the price of the house, but don’t be too generous. There are tax consequences if you're selling a house to a family member at less than fair market value. Why? Because rules are put into place specifically to keep people from avoiding the federal estate tax by giving away their assets.

So that sweet deal you cut your family member is actually seen by the Internal Revenue Service as a gift, and any discount in price will be subject to a federal gift tax. In other words, if you sell your home to a family member for less than the fair market value, it's a gift.

The IRS allows anyone to give up to $14,000 per year to any number of people without having to pay gift taxes. So, if your the difference between your home's market value and the selling price is more than $14,000, you'll owe taxes on the sale.

Selling to a family member?  We’re happy to guide you through the selling process. Contact us to connect with one of our licensed real estate professionals.



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