Wednesday, February 15, 2017

6 Things a Home Inspector Might Not Catch

Before buying into a monthly mortgage payment, 77% of home buyers hire an inspector to go through their new digs with a fine-toothed comb. This is a very good idea.
That extra set of eyes gives buyers peace of mind that a new house won’t have a leaky roof or cracked foundation. Or something even worse. But what you might not realize is that countless conundrums go unnoticed during a home inspection simply because the inspector doesn’t look for them.

And those undetected flaws could add up to expensive repairs.


Here’s the deal: Home inspectors aren’t regulated by federal guidelines. Each state has its own licensing and/or certification requirements. They vary from Texas, which requires 130 classroom hours of real estate inspection training, to Georgia, which requires an inspector have a business license and a letter of recommendation—and little else.

That means home buyers have to do their own homework to make sure they’re working with a reputable and thorough inspector. Make sure to verify an inspector’s references and ask to review the checklist of items covered during an inspection.

And, once you’ve done that, ask your inspector to check for these budget busters.

Runny appliances
If you’re buying a home for the first time, you’re probably swooning over the idea of having your own washer/dryer or dishwasher. And to make sure your new BFF won’t break—and break your heart—an inspector should run these kind of appliances to check for functionality and leaks.
But inspectors don’t always go over all the bells and whistles on appliances.

“Checking the water dispenser for issues on a fridge isn’t standard,” says Tom Kraeutler, a former home inspector, author of “My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure,” and a syndicated radio host.

That oversight could mean you walk into a flooded kitchen if the seal on the water dispenser is faulty or the ice machine springs a leak.

Leaky faucets
To put a home’s plumbing through its paces, all faucets should be turned on; toilets should be flushed multiple times; and drain pipes—even if they’re under the house—checked for leaks while the water is running.

When it comes to sinks, the faucets need to be run long enough to fill them before draining in order to spot a leaky pipe or drain. In the shower, an inspector will need to block the drain pan with a washcloth or rubber jar opener and fill the shower to the top of the “pan” or floor, The water should sit for 15 to 20 minutes to test for leaks in the drain, Kraeutler says.

“That also helps spot if the shower pan is faulty, which is a super-expensive fix,” he says.
Another thing: Leaky shower tiles happen when gaps form in the tile grout or caulk. And they show up only when wet. To simulate showering, the inspector needs to splash his hands under the water and check the integrity of grout and caulk.

Cracked sewage and drainage pipes
Home inspections are always limited to what is visible and accessible, Kraeutler says. So cracks in underground or buried pipes and drain lines will be checked only if your inspector conducts a camera inspection.

That in-depth look into your drain will cost you extra. But the additional few hundred dollars are a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands you’ll shell out repairing or replacing faulty sewage and drainage pipes.

Corroded central air conditioning
Did you know that air-conditioning units can’t be tested in certain temperatures?
It has to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit outside in order to run a unit—temperatures lower than that can cause damage to the air conditioner, Kraeutler says. That means inspections done in cool temperatures could have an inspector ignoring the AC altogether.

So if it’s too cold to run the unit, ask your inspector how he looks for potential problems. You’ll want to make sure the inspector examines all connections and looks for signs of damage.
And, if the temperature is 55 or higher, make sure the AC is run for several hours to test the functioning of the unit’s condenser coil.

“We’ve had customers notice condensation or water seeping through the walls in a few hours [of turning on the air conditioner] or overnight,” Hawkins says. “And unless the AC is run for several hours, that’s something a home inspector would be hard pressed to see during his run-through.”

Dangerous DIY improvements
It might be tempting to spruce up your home with some DIY projects before putting it on the market. But if those home improvements are completed with low-quality materials or not installed properly, a buyer could face an exorbitant—and unexpected—renovation.

A DIY renovation could be dangerous, too. If a basement or attic is finished without proper permits, electrical and plumbing work might not be up to code. And that could mean potential damage—or even danger—to the residents.

Although many home inspectors check for construction permits with the local municipality, Kraeutler suggests verifying that step isn’t overlooked.

Damp porches, decks, and balconies
 “A deck or balcony can also have serious safety issues and be at risk of collapse,” he says.
Asking your inspector about cracks, rusted flashing, and soft areas around drains can help keep water from seeping into your home.

One final tip: Most home inspections are performed at least two months before closing. A lot can change in that time—especially if a house is vacant, Kraeutler says. Consider having a follow-up inspection the day of (or no earlier than the day before) closing to ensure you’re not purchasing a money pit. 

For more tips and advice visit: www.Realtor.com

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Win for Quinn Basketball Fundraiser

Join friends and family of Quinn Amsler at the first annual “Win for Quinn” Basketball Fundraiser on Friday, February 10, 2017 at the Lexington High School for a great cause!

Quinn Amsler was an avid basketball fan and played for the Middlesex Magic and Boston Warrior basketball teams, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He was also a member of the Boston College Men's basketball team through the non-profit Team Impact. Quinn’s two older brothers Will and Jack will be playing for LHS with their proud LHS teams at the fundraiser!

Quinn was diagnosed at the young age of 8 years old with alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma in April, 2015 and courageously battled this cancer with resilience and strength. He received exceptional care during this last year from so many doctors, nurses, and medical care providers at The Children's Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute/The Jimmy Fund Clinic, and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Please join us at the fundraiser, to show your support for the Amsler family and The Quinn Amsler Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

WHEN: Friday, February 10 from 7:00pm-8:30pm
WHERE: Lexington High School

Tickets to the event will be $10 for Adults/ $5 for kids.

Contact: Jeri Foutter   (781) 861-0453   jfoutter@gmail.com

How a Cluttered Lexington Home Costs You Money

Clear the clutter from your Lexington home!
As a Lexington real estate agent, I always recommend that Lexington homeowners declutter their homes. Studies show that a decluttered home causes increased happiness and health among homeowners. Also, a decluttered home is essential when selling your Lexington home! A messy, cluttered home is never appealing to a buyer!

However, did you realize that a cluttered Lexington home could also cost you money? Whether it’s a lost bill you forgot to pay, or spoiled food that you wasted money on, clutter is no friend to your bank account.

To give you more examples, HouseLogic broke it down room by room.

1.  If you have clutter in your home office, or wherever you keep papers and mail, you could lose paper and spend time and money on duplicates. If you misplace bills, you’ll be charged late fees and your bad credit will cause higher interest rates. If you miss tax deadlines, you are charged penalties.

2.  If your closets are disorganized, missing or forgotten clothes could mean money spent on duplicate items. A cluttered, knotted mess of accessories means wasted money, because you can’t find what you’re looking for or don’t wear them because of the hassle!

3.  Disorganization in the kitchen means a more probable chance of food expiring, which is wasted money, and you’ll have to buy new food sooner. A cluttered pantry means you can’t see what you have, so you might end up with duplicates. Crammed cabinets means you are overspending on dishes and gadgets.

4.  A cluttered living room means lost keys or wallet, which could make you late to work and means loss of cash. If you can’t fully relax in your Lexington home, because of the clutter, you’ll spend more money to have fun outside of the home. Blocked ventilation means increased energy costs.

For more details on how clutter is causing you to spend more, check out the HouseLogic article in its entirety. 

Hopefully now, you see the importance of decluttering your Lexington home from a new angle! It’ll help you sell your Lexington home, it could make your life happier and healthier, and it could save you money.

When you’re ready to buy or sell in the Lexington real estate market, contact me for help!

Theresa D'Antuono

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

UNPLUG! A Re-Energizing Family Afternoon in Lexington!

Lexington Recreation & Community Programs, Lexington Education Foundation and the Academy of Creative Arts are excited to invite children ages 5-14 and adults to a complimentary Re-Energizing Afternoon!

UNPLUG! A Re-Energizing Family Afternoon!
Celebrate creativity and well-being together with painting, meditation and yoga.

Saturday, February 4
2:30 - 4:30pm
Lexington Community Center
FREE advance sign-up enters you to win a gift certificate from Catch A Falling Star!
Refreshments and Door Prizes!



Painting - ages 5-14, with a focus on self-expression and meditation

Yoga - teens and adults; bring your own mat

Bring your family for painting, meditation, and yoga, plus raffles for Rancatore's and refreshments! The event is FREE to families and activities are on-going throughout the afternoon.

FREE family event. Sponsored by the Lexington Education Foundation, the Town of Lexington Recreation and Community Programs and the Academy of Creative Arts.



Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Lexington Bicentennial Band Winter Concert



WHEN: Sunday January 29, 2017
TIME: 3:00 PM until 4:30 PM
WHERE: Lexington High School – Donald J. Gillespie, Jr. Auditorium 

This concert is free and open to the public, with donations always welcome.  The Lexington High School auditorium is located at 251 Waltham Street in Lexington, MA 02421 and is handicapped accessible.  For more information, call 781-862-8473 or visit our web page at the link below. 


Past Events
Take a look back at the LBB's past performances.
Watch the world premiere of "Seeds of Revolution"! (It starts at minute 31.)

Join the Band!
If you are a musician and would like to join, contact Jeff Leonard for details. You can get an idea of kind of music the LBB performs by looking at the repertoire.
The LBB is looking for strong players in the double-reed, french horn, and trumpet sections. The LBB does not have any openings in the clarinet, flute, or sax sections.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Lexington Farmers' Market in Winter!


It’s that time of year again: get ready for the SMALL YET MIGHTY WINTER MARKET!
The LFM is excited to partner with the Waldorf School of Lexington, the new location of the Winter Market, with some of your favorite farmers and vendors from the LFM’s regular season. In addition, the Waldorf School will be holding a pop-up shop at each market, featuring handcrafted items, books and toys

FARMERS AND VENDORS:
C & C Lobster and Fish
Copicut Farms (poultry, pork and eggs)
Deano’s Pasta
Del Sur (empanadas)
Herb Farmacy (starting January 21)
River Rock Farms (beef)
Roasted Granola
Still Life Farm
Swiss Bakers
Waldorf School Homespun Store

WHEN:
Saturdays from 11 am – 2 pm
January 7 and 21
February 4 and 18
March 4 and 18

WHERE:
The Waldorf School in Lexington, 739 Massachusetts Avenue in Lexington.
The entrance to the market will be around back; parking is available on Mass Ave, in the Waldorf School parking areas and across the street from Follen Church
For more information on participating farmers and vendors, learn more at “Farmers/Vendors” on this website

**IMPORTANT: the LFM will not be matching SNAP dollars at the Winter Market for the time being due to administrative changes. We will update you when the SNAP matching program is back up and running, and apologize for the inconvenience.

Important notice: Sometimes farmers and vendors have last minute changes and cannot come to the market. We cannot update this website on the go, but please check out our facebook page for UP TO THE MINUTE notices and market changes!



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Family Bingo Night





Event Date: 
 
Friday, January 20, 2017 - 
6:30pm to 8:30pm
Bring your friends and family over to the Community Center for another great night of BINGO.  Entrance fee includes all your playing needs, some light refreshments and snacks, and goes toward prizes during the evening.  Walk-ins are welcome, but pre-registration is required to be guaranteed participation in this fun, family event.

For more information

Phone:
781-698-4870

Friday, January 6, 2017

Make 2017 The Year You Buy A Lexington Home!

Buying a Lexington home is a smart financial decision
Are you considering buying a Lexington home this year? As your Lexington real estate agent, I’m here to share that this is a smart move for numerous reasons! Make 2017 the year that you buy your first home in the Lexington real estate market and begin building wealth for your future.

To prove that homeownership in Lexington is a smart idea, self-made millionaire David Bach recently explained that the best way millennials can accrue wealth is to become homeowners. He stated that purchasing a home is “an escalator to wealth.”

Why is this? Say you rent at $1,500 for 30 years. You’ll pay $540,000 over time, enough to buy yourself a gorgeous home! In the end, you end up with no equity. As a homeowner, you purchase a home and pay mortgage payments. In the end, you’ll either own a home, a financial asset, or you’ll sell the home and get money back. Hopefully, you’ll end up with more than you paid!

As Realtor Magazine recently shared, more equity is likely coming to owners. Home prices nationwide rose year-over-year by 7.1 percent from November 2015 to November 2016! More price jumps are expected, experts say, though at a more modest pace. They predict that prices will increase another 4.7 percent by November 2017.

This means that the sooner you buy a Lexington home, the more you’ll likely save on the price. Mortgage rates are on the rise too, so you could save on rates by purchasing sooner than later as well. Plus, with equity on the rise, you might be able to sell your Lexington home for more than you paid, even if you don’t plan on living in it forever.

If you have questions about the current Lexington real estate market, or questions about the home-buying process, contact me! I am always here and ready to help answer your questions, and to help you find the perfect home for your needs. As a Lexington real estate agent, I am only a call or email away!

Don’t let 2017 be the year of real estate opportunity that you let pass by. Contact me today!

Theresa D'Antuono

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Do You Have What it Takes to Buy a New Lexington Home?

You’re ready to buy your first Lexington home! But before you begin your new home hunt in earnest, it’s helpful to know exactly what you need for a purchase. Do you have it all, or are you missing something that could throw a wrench in your dream of owning a Lexington home?

After all, you can’t just slap down a credit card to buy a house, particularly if you need a mortgage—your lender will want to check your financial background to size up whether you can afford the place you’re eyeing. That means you’ll have to round up some paperwork as proof.
So here’s a handy checklist of what you’ll need to sail through this process without a hitch.

Tax returns
To ensure you have the income history to buy a house, most lenders will ask for two years’ worth of tax returns, two years of W-2s, or both. This is definitely the case for freelancers and self-employed borrowers, but full-time employees may be asked for all of this paperwork as well. Your lender may even retrieve your tax returns themselves straight from the IRS  (with your written permission, of course), since this cuts down on potential fraud. Still, it’s a good idea to get those documents in order just in case.

Pay stubs
Tax returns won’t be where your proof of income ends. You will also need to rustle up copies of your past two months of pay stubs, according to Martha Witte, vice president of FM Home Loans. If you’re self-employed or freelancing, things get a bit more complicated.
 “Most of the time, contract employees receive a 1099 and file a Schedule C on their personal returns. In this instance, we would take a two-year average of the Schedule C income,” Witte says.
Also be prepared to show a projected balance sheet, detailing what you’ve earned this year and what you plan to earn in the coming months.
“It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it should ideally support that you are on track to have consistent income in the current year, when compared to other years,” Witte says.

Financial statements
You will also need to show two months of asset statements—think your checking and savings accounts. This one is a biggie because your lender will use these statements to prove you have enough money available to buy a home and then some.
“You will need liquid funds available for the down payment and to cover closing costs. You will also need reserves after closing, which means you can’t be left with $0 once you buy the home,” Witte says. While the reserve amounts vary, two to four months of reserves is enough for most conventional loans, she says.

Getting a down payment gift?
Finally, if you’re planning on getting a portion of your down payment as a gift (you lucky dog, you), plan on getting some documentation from the gift-givers, like copies of their checking or savings account monthly statements. “We need to also verify the donor’s ability to give the gift,” Witte says.
When in doubt, follow this simple rule of thumb from Witte: “Follow the rule of twos,” meaning you’ll need a two-year snapshot of your income and finances.

Good Luck in your Lexington home search and Happy New Year!



Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Weird Packing Tricks That Actually Work

Packing to move can be drudge work, but it’s an even worse task if your labor results in broken glassware, tangled jewelry, busted gadgets, and lost electrical cords. Leaving your home for a new one is stressful enough without these added woes.
To the rescue, here are some brilliant hacks that’ll get your stuff loaded up with nary a crack—and almost no sweat—from experts who live and breathe packing.
Plates
Don’t just grab your dinnerware from the shelf and stack it in a box—it’s more apt to break. As counter intuitive as it sounds, it’s better to pack them sideways instead. Just make sure the box is small enough so that the plates fit with only a bit of wiggle room on each side where you can insert bubble wrap or other cushioning.

Glasses and cups

Put your tube socks to good use: Insert your stemware into them (one per sock, of course) to prevent cracks. Turn the handles of coffee mugs and pitchers inward in boxes to save space. You can also pick up wine or beer boxes with the cardboard separators to pack glasses and other fragile items—liquor stores give these away for free.

Necklaces and bracelets

Don’t let all of those pretty chains get tangled in knots! To prevent bracelets and necklaces from ending up in this sad state, grab a few empty toilet paper rolls or drinking straws. Thread each chain through the roll or straw, and then fasten the clasp. Lay them gently in a box and cover with a layer of clothing to keep them in place.

Earrings

These tiny objects need their own packing compartment—and your old egg cartons are just the solution. Pop a few pairs into each nesting cup and then top with a few cotton balls. Close the carton and seal it with a bit of packing or masking tape. You could also poke your earrings through a paper towel tube, secure them with backs and then wrap the whole roll with plastic wrap or a soft T-shirt.

Clothing

Moving a dresser is easier without the drawers in it, but if you’re hoisting it full of clothes, take some heavy-duty plastic and wrap it around the entire piece so the drawers don’t slide out.

Linens

Soft items like towels, sheets, and dishcloths can do double duty when you pack them. Roll up wooden and plastic utensils and other kitchen items in dish towels, or use cloth napkins and T-shirts to wrap or separate fragile items. Pack pillows at the top of boxes to add extra cushion and wrap artwork in blankets.

Electronics

Much like jewelry, cords might get balled up and separated from their devices, so make a special effort to keep these organized.
Repurpose those plastic tabs that come with loaves of bread to secure cords. Be sure to label them so you don’t lose track of which cord goes to which piece of equipment. You can also take a photo of your electronics before unplugging them so that you remember which cords fit into which sockets.

Your daily necessities

It seems so obvious—until you’re standing, exhausted, amid towers of boxes wishing you had your toothbrush and slippers. Pack this special box and fill it with the essentials you need on the first day and night in your new house, including toilet paper, pajamas, a spare set of clothes—and a bottle of Champagne!

For more packing tips, visit www.realtor.com