Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Why Home Sellers Are Cashing In

Home sellers had it good at the end of last year, racking up profits they hadn't seen in more than a decade, a new report finds.

In the last quarter of 2017, sellers pocketed an average $54,000 over what they originally paid for their homes, according to a recent ATTOM Data Solutions report. That's up 0.49% over the previous quarter and nearly 14.6% over the same quarter the previous year.

And it's the most sellers have netted, an average 29.7% profit, since the third quarter of 2007. Thank the national housing shortage for those sky-high returns.

"If you're selling, you're taking advantage of a red-hot housing market with low supply, high demand, and fast-appreciating home prices in many areas," says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM, a real estate information firm.

To come up with those figures, ATTOM compared the median home prices in the last quarter of the year to just over eight years ago (the average amount of time owners stay in their homes before selling). ATTOM looked at recorded sales deeds, foreclosure filings, and loan data for its report. Only metros with sufficient historical data and a large enough population, mostly 200,000 and up, were included.

West Coast homeowners did the best. Sellers in Silicon Valley's uber-pricey San Jose, CA, scored the biggest profits, of about 90.9%. That was followed by San Francisco, at 73.3%; Merced, CA, at 64.6%; Seattle, at 64.4%; and Santa Cruz, CA, at 59.8%.

"Those are the markets that were more insulated from the downturn, because many of them are highly desirable, on the coast with well-paying jobs. They were the first to recover when things turned around," Blomquist says.

But they're not the only ones doing well.
"This housing boom started on the coasts, but is spreading to the middle of the country," Blomquist says.

More than half of all of the metros included in the analysis saw record-high home prices in 2017. Some of the bigger names were San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta.

Homeowners are staying put
The downside for sellers was that the same housing shortage and ultrahigh home prices are hindering many of them from trading up and finding a nicer or larger home in their area. After they unload their properties, they still need a place to live.

That could help to explain why homeowners stayed put for record lengths of time. Those who sold their properties in the last quarter of the year had owned them for about 8.18 years. That's a slight increase from 8.12 years in the previous quarter and 7.78 years a year earlier.

It's also the longest homeowner tenure since data began being collected on it in 2000.

A stronger economy means more all-cash sales, fewer foreclosures
In a sign of a stronger economy, more buyers are also opting to pay all cash for their residential real estate. These sales made up 29% of single-family home and condo sales in 2017. That's up from 28.7% in 2017.

The metros with the most all-cash sales were Mobile, AL, at 69.8%; Binghamton, NY, at 60.9%; Macon, GA, at 57.7%; and Columbus, GA, at 56.2%.

"If you're a buyer in this housing market, it's a full-contact sport," says Blomquist. "The buyers with the most cash often win."

Meanwhile, distressed sales (think short sales, bank-owned sales, and foreclosure auction sales) fell to a 10-year low, to make up only about 14% of all single-family home and condo sales. That's a drop from 15.5% a year earlier.

"There's fewer people going into foreclosure because if someone does get into trouble or lose their job, they have equity in their home that can provide a cushion," Blomquist says.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentines Day Lexington!

Valentine's Day  February 14 

Love, Cupid, hearts, chocolates, cards and flowers are everywhere--it's Valentine's Day! On February 14, Americans celebrate love and friendship. But where did this holiday of affection come from?
The origins of Valentine's Day are murky. We do know that the ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, a spring festival, on the 15th of February. With the introduction of Christianity, the holiday moved to the 14th of February--the saint day that celebrated several early Christian martyrs named Valentine. But somewhere along the way, Valentine's Day came to represent romance. You can watch a romantic movie right here, "The Kiss," produced by Thomas Edison back in 1900.

The romance we associate with Valentine's Day may spring from the medieval belief that birds select their mates on February 14th. During the Middle Ages, human lovebirds recited verse or prose to one another in honor of the day. "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" wrote William Shakespeare. And poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed love this way:

How do I love thee; let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach. . .

"Will you be my Valentine?" Nowadays, people often ask this of their loved ones in greeting cards. Probably the first greeting cards, handmade valentines, appeared in the 16th century. As early as 1800, companies began mass-producing cards. Initially these cards were hand-colored by factory workers. By the early 20th century even fancy lace and ribbon-strewn cards were created by machine. Perhaps you will give or receive a card today or celebrate your family or that special someone in another way. Valentine's Day also gives people a chance to reflect on the meaning of love. What do you think makes true love? 

May your day be full of romance Lexington!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hang Wall Décor Perfectly in Your Lexington, MA Home

Whether you are staging your Lexington home to sell, or you are decorating the new home you just bought, do you know how to hang wall art and photos properly? This is something you rarely hear discussed, but we’ve all been there, trying to find the perfect place to hang décor before hammering a nail into the wall!

As your Lexington real estate agent, I am here to the rescue. I found an article on Apartment Therapy that clears up the confusion. The key rule is to hang art at 57 inches on center.

What does this mean? Basically, the center of your wall art should hang at 57 inches from your floor. So to do this, you would measure up from the ground with measuring tape until you reach 57 inches up the wall. Make a small mark on the wall with a pencil.

Then you would measure from side to side and top to bottom on your artwork and find the middle. That is what you want to hang at the 57-inch mark. The tricky part is taking into account where the art will actually hang from, such as from a hanging wire or a canvas ledge. You want to take that into account when finding the middle point of the decorative piece.

This also applies to groups of pictures. If you have a group or gallery wall, think of the group as one giant picture. Once you determine how you want them to look on the wall, put the center of the entire gallery at the 57-inch mark, and then work out from there.

Obviously, this won’t always work, such as if you have high pieces of furniture in the way, or light switches, etc. But this is a great rule of thumb that art galleries use, and it should help you with decorating or staging your Lexington MA home!

When you are ready to buy a Lexington home, or ready to sell your Lexington home, contact me! As your Lexington real estate agent, I am here and ready to help you with all of your needs this year in the Lexington real estate market!

Theresa D'Antuono

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wilson Farm School Break Activities for Kids

Kids Baking Class
Tuesday, Frebruary 20th • 11am - 1pm • $20 per person • -FULL!-
Take the kids down to the farm for a fun baking class! Kids will make their own pizza and then decorate a fun pastry with the help of our Bakery Team!

Owl Floral Arrangement Class
Wednesday, Frebruary 21st • 11am - 1pm • $25 per person •
Children will work with our award-winning cut flower team to create a feathered friend out of beautiful flowers. The class includes hands-on tips and each child will leave with their own masterpiece.

Kids Cooking Class
Thursday, February 22nd • 3pm - 6pm • $20 per person • -FULL!-
Chef Jeff and his team are teaching kids how to make a delicious breakfast that they can take home. This class Jeff is showing the young chefs how to make:
Crepes with Fruit and whipped cream

Build your Own Terrarium Class
Friday, February 23rd • 11am - 1pm • $25 per person
Join us during February School Vacation Week for a Build Your Own Terrarium class! Spend time crafting your very own nature scene, complete with succulents, mosses, pebbles, and maybe a miniature creature or two!

Call 781-862-3900 now to reserve your spot today. 

Visit their website for more details.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Lexington Winter Farmers Market

2018 LFM Small Yet Mighty Winter Market

Every Other Saturday
January – April from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

January 6 & 20, February 3 & 17
March 3, 17, & 31, April 14 & 28

Location-The Waldorf School, 739 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington
The entrance to the market will be around back (follow the signs); parking is available on Mass Ave, in the Waldorf School parking areas and across the street at Follen Church

Delicious, local food from your favorite LFM farmers and vendors for your Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and everything in between.

2018 Farmers & Vendor List
Bell & Goose Cheese
C&C Lobsters and Fish
Copicut Farms
Deano’s Pasta
Del Sur
Heron Pond Farm
Merton’s Maple Syrup (Guest Vendor)
River Rock Farm
The Roasted Granola
Waldorf School Homespun Store

For more information on participating farmers and vendors, visit our “Farmers/Vendors” page.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Community Endowment of Lexington

Information Session for the 2018
Community Endowment of Lexington Grant Cycle

All those interested in this year's program are strongly encouraged to attend our upcoming information session on Friday, January 26, 2018 from 9:00-11:00 AM at the Lexington Community Center. This forum will provide a unique opportunity to ask questions of CEL’s leadership team and learn about the types of programs CEL has supported in the past and would like to encourage for the future. It's also a chance to engage with other organizations about collaboration possibilities. Please join us! RSVP by January 24, 2018 to Megan.

Who We Are
The Community Endowment of Lexington promotes a spirit of philanthropic giving to help enhance the quality of life for all Lexington citizens now and in the future. We are a permanent grantmaking source of funding to support our community needs and opportunities, and provide ways for donors to give back or leave a legacy to our community. 
The Community Endowment of Lexington supports programs and services that help make life healthier and more enjoyable for all members of the community in the areas of health and human services, arts and culture, the environment, and community building. It encourages grant applications from nonprofit organizations and public agencies that bring innovative thinking to big issues and small ones. Please click here to learn more about the Community Endowment of Lexington 2017 grant program.

Lexington Community Board
A group of local Lexington residents form the CEL Community Board. These local residents represent the different demographics of our town, and together raise the funds for grant making in Lexington and decide on the most impactful grants for our community. 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Wilson Farm 2018 January Events

Souper Sampling Weekend
Saturday & Sunday • January 27th & 28th • 11am - 4pm
There is nothing better on a cold New England day, than a warm bowl of hearty soup. Join friends and family January 27th & 28th for a Soup-er Sampling Weekend! We have invited our favorite soup vendors to showcase their soups, chili, bisques and chowder. Plus, you know our Kitchen and Bakery are whipping up some unique treats guaranteed to tantilize your taste buds. This event is free and open to the public. See you down on the farm.

Cooking Class with Chef Raymond Ost
Tuesday, January 30th, 2018 • 6pm - 8pm

Our Executive and French Master Chef Raymond Ost is leading our first cooking class of 2018: An Alsatian Evening with a Sweet Tropical Finish. The Class is $50 per person, and includes hands-on direction from Chef Ost and his team. RSVP is required and space is limited. Call 781-862-3900 now to register! 

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lexington Pops Chorus Winter Concert

Admission: Adults $20* at the door, Children (under 13) $5   (*Adults $17 if tickets purchased in advance from a chorus member or online. )                                                                                              
For directions and accessibility information, please click: Hancock Church

Monday, January 8, 2018

Lexington MA Homeowner Tasks for January

January Home Maintenance Tasks for Lexington Homeowners
Now that the holiday season is over, do you feel like you’re quickly falling into a winter’s funk? As your Lexington real estate agent, I’m here to offer you a list of homeowner maintenance tasks! As a Lexington MA homeowner, you know there are always things that can be done around the house. However, these particular tasks are best completed in the month of January.

See how many of these you can check off your list this month:

1.  Organize seasonal storage and holiday décor. Before you stuff your holiday décor away and then struggle with it next year, take this opportunity to sort through it, take inventory, donate or trash what you no longer care to keep, and organize and properly store what is left.

2.  Give your kitchen a deep cleaning. If you hosted the holidays at your Lexington MA home, your kitchen most likely took a beating. Go through your pantry and refrigerator and remove expired leftovers and snack foods. Then, give the kitchen a deep cleaning, including walls, kickboards, everything.

3.  Plan summertime projects now. If you want to add landscaping, decks, patios, pools or any other outdoor projects to your Lexington MA property come spring or summer, the time to hire contractors is now. There schedules fill up quickly!

4.  Clean all of your home’s filters. Aside from the obvious HVAC filter, others that are smart to clean and/or replace this time of year as needed are the filters in your fridge, vacuum cleaner, dryer, air filter, humidifier or dehumidifier and other household items.

5.  Shop for new linens and towels. They go on sale in January! This is a tradition that dates way back and is still true today.

You know what else you can accomplish this month? Your Lexington MA real estate market goals! If you want to buy and/or sell this winter season, I am here to help. Contact me, your Lexington MA real estate agent, and let’s get going early this year on accomplishing your real estate goals for 2018!

Theresa D'Antuono

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Positive Habits to Actually Keep Your New Year's Resolution

The start of a new year is, of course, the perfect time for a fresh start. There’s the metaphorical power, plus the numerical ease of counting days and months of success from Jan 1. But balanced against the celebratory excess and indulgence of the holiday season, New Year’s resolutions can, sadly, tend towards abstinence.

This year I’ll stop smoking. This year I’ll lose weight. This year I’ll quit Diet Coke. This year I’ll be the better, purer, stronger version of myself. Better and stronger is awesome, but here’s a proposition: get there without having to tell yourself “no.”

Deprivation is nasty stuff. It’s woven into the Puritan work ethic that’s woven into so much of American culture—the idea that abstinence is virtue, that willpower is spiritual strength. Sure, there are bad things in life, and it’s best to stay away from them, but an ethic of deprivation is a slippery slope to a life of empty asceticism.

Deprivation is also often a recipe for nasty relapses. When you assign yourself a new zone of self-control, unless you’re doing work to replenish your mental energy, you will run out of “strength.” Think of a rubber band pulled and pulled until it snaps. That snap is your slip, and the tighter you’ve pulled yourself, the more it’s going to hurt. (If you’ve ever gone on a restrictive diet and, after hours or weeks, found yourself bingeing in a way you never would’ve before the diet, you know this feeling well.)

Okay, so: how can you achieve your goals without telling yourself “no”? Most of the time, it’s a simple flip:

  • Stop eating junk food. → Eat more vegetables.
  • Lose weight. → Do Couch to 5k or Go to yoga class once a week.
  • Stop overcommitting socially. → Reserve one night a week to stay in.
  • Quit Diet Coke → Drink more water.
  • Stop looking at Twitter in bed. → Read a book for ten minutes before bed every night.

They’re not one-to-one matches—you can eat junk food and vegetables, and running won’t necessarily make you lose weight. But these positively framed resolutions get at the core value you’re trying to develop in yourself by focusing on adding a new habit instead of subtracting an old one, whether it’s fitness, peacefulness, or hydration.

Even if your resolution is truly, at its heart, about stopping a bad behavior, it’s hugely useful to couple stopping the bad thing with the addition of a new, positive habit—a yes in addition to the no. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself at your 3pm smoke break just looking around with nothing to do and an awful craving. It’s easier to replace a habit than to erase one. Think about where, when, and how your old habit happened, and be prepared with a replacement—a thing you will do to replace the thing you won’t.

Remember that resolutions of any kind take energy to turn into long-lasting and secure patterns. Be gentle with yourself, and you’ll be able to do great things.