Wednesday, May 13, 2015

8 Tips for Adding Curb Appeal and Value to Your Lexington Home

Lexington Homes with high curb appeal command higher prices and take less time to sell. We’re not talking about replacing vinyl siding with redwood siding; we’re talking about maintenance and beautifying tasks you’d like to live with anyway.

The way your Lexington house looks from the street -- attractively landscaped and well-maintained -- can add thousands to its value and cut the time it takes to sell. But which projects pump up curb appeal most? Some spit and polish goes a long way, and so does a dose of color.

Tip #1: Wash Your House’s Face
Before you scrape any paint or plant more azaleas, wash the dirt, mildew, and general grunge off the outside of your house. REALTORS® say washing a house can add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sale prices of some houses.

A bucket of soapy water and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush can remove the dust and dirt that have splashed onto your wood, vinyl, metal, stucco, brick, and fiber cement siding. Power washers (rental: $75 per day) can reveal the true color of your flagstone walkways.

Wash your windows inside and out, swipe cobwebs from eaves, and hose down downspouts. Don’t forget your garage door, which was once bright white. If you can’t spray off the dirt, scrub it off with a solution of 1/2 cup trisodium phosphate -- TSP, available at grocery stores, hardware stores, and home improvement centers -- dissolved in 1 gallon of water.

You and a friend can make your house sparkle in a few weekends. A professional cleaning crew will cost hundreds -- depending on the size of the house and number of windows -- but will finish in a couple of days.

Tip #2: Freshen the Paint Job
The most commonly offered curb appeal advice from real estate pros and appraisers is to give the exterior of your home a good paint job. Buyers will instantly notice it, and appraisers will value it. Of course, painting is an expensive and time-consuming facelift. To paint a 3,000-square-foot home, figure on spending $375 to $600 on paint; $1,500 to $3,000 on labor.

Your best bet is to match the paint you already have: Scrape off a little and ask your local paint store to match it. Resist the urge to make a statement with color. An appraiser will mark down the value of a house that’s painted a wildly different color from its competition.

Tip #3: Regard the Roof
The condition of your roof is one of the first things buyers notice and appraisers assess. Missing, curled, or faded shingles add nothing to the look or value of your house. If your neighbors have maintained or replaced their roofs, yours will look especially shabby.
You can pay for roof repairs now, or pay for them later in a lower appraisal; appraisers will mark down the value by the cost of the repair. According to "Remodeling" magazine’s 2015 "Cost vs. Value Report," the average cost of a new asphalt shingle roof is about $19,500.
Some tired roofs look a lot better after you remove 25 years of dirt, moss, lichens, and algae. Don’t try cleaning your roof yourself: call a professional with the right tools and technique to clean it without damaging it. A 2,000-square-foot roof will take a day and $400 to $600 to clean professionally.

Tip #4: Neaten the Yard
A well-manicured lawn, fresh mulch, and pruned shrubs boost the curb appeal of any home.

Replace overgrown bushes with leafy plants and colorful annuals. Surround bushes and trees with dark or reddish-brown bark mulch, which gives a rich feel to the yard. Put a crisp edge on garden beds, pull weeds and invasive vines, and plant a few geraniums in pots.

Green up your grass with lawn food and water. Cover bare spots with seeds and sod, get rid of crab grass, and mow regularly.

Tip #5: Add a Color Splash
Even a little color attracts and pleases the eye of would-be buyers.
Plant a tulip border in the fall that will bloom in the spring. Dig a flowerbed by the mailbox and plant some pansies. Place a brightly colored bench or Adirondack chair on the front porch. Get a little daring, and paint the front door red or blue.
These colorful touches won’t add to the value of our house: Appraisers don’t give you extra points for a blue bench. But beautiful colors enhance curb appeal and help your house to sell faster.

Tip #6: Glam Your Mailbox
An upscale mailbox, architectural house numbers, or address plaques can make your Lexington house stand out.

High-style die cast aluminum mailboxes range from $100 to $350. You can pick up a handsome, hand-painted mailbox for about $50. If you don’t buy new, at least give your old mailbox a facelift with paint and new house numbers.

These days, your local home improvement center or hardware stores has an impressive selection of decorative numbers. Architectural address plaques, which you tack to the house or plant in the yard, typically range from $80 to $200. Brass house numbers range from $3 to $11 each, depending on size and style.

Tip #7: Fence Yourself In
A picket fence with a garden gate to frame the yard is an asset. Not only does it add visual punch to your property, appraisers will give extra value to a fence in good condition, although it has more impact in a family-oriented neighborhood than an upscale retirement community.

Expect to pay $2,000 to $3,500 for a professionally installed gated picket fence 3 feet high and 100 feet long.

If you already have a fence, make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Replace broken gates and tighten loose latches.

Tip #8: Maintenance is a Must
Nothing looks worse from the curb -- and sets off subconscious alarms -- like hanging gutters, missing bricks from the front steps, or peeling paint. Not only can these deferred maintenance items damage your home, but they can decrease the value of your house by 10%.
Here are some maintenance chores that will dramatically help the look of your house:
Refasten sagging gutters.
Repoint bricks that have lost their mortar.
Reseal cracked asphalt.
Straighten shutters.
Replace cracked windows.

Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/adding-curb-appeal-value-to-home/preview/#ixzz3YQYDB85S 


Friday, May 8, 2015

5 Mother’s Day Events around Lexington, MA!

How are you celebrating Mother’s Day this year in and around Lexington? It’s coming weekend, so if you haven’t planned yet, now might be the time! As your Lexington real estate agent, I’ve put together details on five options in the area. Whether you’d like to celebrate with a fancy brunch, a casual picnic, a fun parade for the kids, or a wine and painting outing, there is an option for you!

Read through the list and make your reservations soon, if required. Enjoy your Mother’s Day in and around Lexington, MA! Moms, you deserve it!

1.  The Inn at Hastings Park will host a Mother’s Day brunch menu! Cost is $55 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Reservations are required. Appetizers include smoked salmon, yogurt parfait, asparagus salad and more, and entrée options include crab benedict, braised lamb shank, omelet, prime rib of beef or a vegetarian pasta primavera. Don’t forget about dessert too, with four scrumptious options! 

2.  Bring mom to Wilson Farm in Lexington so that she can pick out her own Mother’s Day gift! Their greenhouse is loaded with gorgeous spring blooms available as hanging baskets, pots, bouquets, or plants and flowers for your yard! You can also pick out fresh produce in the stand for your Mother’s Day dinner. Special gift baskets and food trays are available as well. Make a day of it! 

3.  Bring mom to Waxy O’Connor’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Lexington for a special Mother’s Day Paint Nite! This will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday and will include painting a beautiful southwest sky. You and mom can enjoy painting and sipping cocktails together, along with famous mom’s trivia, flowers for mom and special prizes! 

4.  Head to Concord’s Colonial Inn for an elaborate Mother’s Day brunch for mom! A breakfast buffet will be served from 7 to 10 a.m., costing $16.95 for adults and $7.95 for kids age five to 12. A brunch buffet will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and will cost $60 for adults and $25 for kids age five to 12. From a smoked salmon platter and a seafood bar, to cheese, fruit and a carving station, there is something for everyone to enjoy at this buffet! 

5.  Drive into Boston for the annual Duckling Parade at Boston Public Garden on May 10! This is a celebration of the children’s book, Make Way for Ducklings, and hundreds of children parade through Boston’s parks dressed like characters in the book and holding little duckling toys. Moms can enjoy a free mini massage, and families can enjoy a picnic after the parade! 

Enjoy your special weekend in Lexington, moms! When ready to buy a Lexington home, or when ready to sell your Lexington home, contact me, your Lexington real estate agent.

Theresa D'Antuono

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The History of Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.








Friday, May 1, 2015

Happy May Day!

Happy May Day! While not an overly prominent holiday in America, it does have a long and notable history as one of the world's principal festivals. The origin of the May Day as a day for celebration dates back to the days, even before the birth of Christ. And like many ancient festivals it too has a Pagan connection.

For the Druids of the British Isles, May 1 was the second most important holiday of the year. Because, it was when the festival of Beltane held. It was thought that the day divides the year into half. The other half was to be ended with the Samhain on November 1. Those days the May Day custom was the setting of new fire. It was one of those ancient New Year rites performed throughout the world. And the fire itself was thought to lend life to the burgeoning springtime sun. Cattle were driven through the fire to purify them. Men, with their sweethearts, passed through the smoke for seeing good luck.

Then the Romans came to occupy the British Isles. The beginning of May was a very popular feast time for the Romans. It was devoted primarily to the worship of Flora, the goddess of flowers. It was in her honor a five day celebration, called the Floralia, was held. The five day festival would start from April 28 and end on May 2. The Romans brought in the rituals of the Floralia festival in the British Isles. And gradually the rituals of the Floralia were added to those of the Beltane. And many of today's customs on the May Day bear a stark similarity with those combined traditions.

May Day observance was discouraged during the Puritans. Though, it was re-lived when the Puritans lost power in England, it didn't have the same robust force. Gradually, it came to be regarded more as a day of joy and merriment for the kids, rather than a day of observing the ancient fertility rights.
By the Middle Ages every English village had its Maypole. The bringing in of the Maypole from the woods was a great occasion and was accompanied by much rejoicing and merrymaking. The Maypoles were of all sizes. And one village would vie with another to show who could produce the tallest Maypole. Maypoles were usually set up for the day in small towns, but in London and the larger towns they were erected permanently.

Roots of May Day celebration in America:
The Puritans frowned on May Day, so the day has never been celebrated with as much enthusiasm in the United States as in Great Britain. But the tradition of celebrating May Day by dancing and singing around a maypole, tied with colorful streamers or ribbons, survived as a part of the English tradition. The kids celebrating the day by moving back and forth around the pole with the the streamers, choosing of May queen, and hanging of May baskets on the doorknobs of folks -- are all the leftovers of the old European traditions.