15-Minute Home Makeovers

PicMonkey CollageDo you have 15-Minutes in a week. Why don’t you plan a 15-Minute Home Makeovers. Here is your checklist start enjoying your 15-Minute Home Makeovers. Share pictures and like the post.

By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Published: January 2, 2013

Here are 7 house pick-me-ups that take about as much time as brewing a pot of coffee and fit your schedule whenever you have a few extra minutes.

 

1. Switch the plates. Upgrade your drab, plastic switch plates with snazzy covers that match or accent your décor. Even the most expensive brass switch  plates cost less than $20 each.

Or, spend a buck for a plastic plate and decorate it yourself. Use craft paint, or cover the plate with decorative paper.

You also can switch outlet covers, but don’t get too fancy. Outlet covers should blend with the wall.
2. Touch-up boo-boos. A bit of new paint gives any room a fresh face, which is why you should keep extra color-matched paint after you remodel. Touch up banged-up baseboards, door and window trim, and wall marks that won’t wash away. Even spot painting requires care; use a drop cloth to protect other surfaces.

3. Change out drawer and door hardware. Upgrade your kitchen or bathroom by installing new pulls and knobs. Be sure to measure drawer pulls so you won’t have to drill new holes. Check out these cute and economical ($4.95 for 8) zoo dresser drawer knobs on Esty. Home improvement centers have a large selection of inexpensive pulls and knobs.

4. Update your mailbox. Bump up curb appeal by spray-painting your old mailbox. You can freshen the same color, or go wild with bright hues. Don’t forget to scrub off dirt and rust before painting with rust-proof paint ($6-$12 for a 10-oz. can; lots of decorative textures and colors).

5. Play the numbers game. Decorative house numbers and plates give your home a custom and classy look. Some numbers are quick peel-and-stick affairs; others you’ll have to screw in. They’re made of wood, plastic, brass, stainless steel, and other materials; $6 to $30 each.

6. Embellish your throne. A new toilet seat gives you a regal bearing. Plastic and enameled seats ($12-$25) in a rainbow of colors add a dash of panache; a solid wood mahogany or walnut seat ($45-$60) makes an executive statement; cushioned seats ($15-$20) won’t make a lasting impression — and that’s a good thing.

7. Declutter. You’ll be amazed how a 15-minute daily declutter can make a room look like new. First, get rid of stuff from your fridge door: that large, blank canvas will immediately brighten your kitchen. Corral mail and papers in decorative boxes with tops that can close and hide the mess. Organize school supplies in caddies. Every day, tame a new spot.

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Do Your Finances Meet the 28/36 Rule?

28-36Rule
Do Your Finances Meet the 28/36 Rule?

Spring market is here and inventory is still low, where do you start to stay in the ball game.

If you’re considering buying a home, especially as a first-time buyer, it’s important to take a close look at your finances before you start shopping.

Start with the 28/36 rule. Many lenders use it to determine credit eligibility.

The “28″ refers to the percentage of your gross monthly household income that should be allocated for housing costs each month, including principal, interest, taxes and insurance. The “36″ represents the total debt that you carry. It shouldn’t exceed 36 percent of your total income.

As long as your monthly debt – like car, student loan and credit card payments – doesn’t exceed the 36 percent, you’re probably in good shape to qualify for the loan amount that meets your “28″ calculation.

There’s a sample 28/36 calculation in the RE/MAX Home Buying Guide. Check it out. The guide is a great reference.

Looking for more personal attention? Call/text 781-223-8338 or email  janine@elkhouryrealtors.com me so I  can guide you through the entire home-buying process. Read my reviews online.

 

 

How is the Local Market in Woburn

Single Family homes sold

Woburn Feb-12 Feb-13 Change
Number of  homes Sold

10

19

90.00%

Average List Price

$271,705

$337,300

24.14%

Average Sale Price

$290,770

$341,084

17.30%

Median Sale Price

$280,325

$327,500

16.83%

Average DOM*

96

121

26.04%

Average SP/ LP*

94%

99%

5.32%

Average SP/OP*

92%

97%

5.43%

Lowest Price

$130,000

$130,000

Highest Price

$363,000

$595,000

* SP=Selling Price |LP= Listing Price|OP=Original Price | DOM= Days on the market

singlefamilyhome

What is Available for Sale?  

As of February 28, 26 Active  single family homes were for sale in Woburn, MA. 20  have accepted offers with contingencies, 3 Underagreement. Contingent homes  continue to be listed as “Active” with a note that they can be shown on back up. That means that if the accepted offer falls through, a backup offer could be presented to the sellers.  Inventory is very low and homes are selling over asking if prices right. DON’T WAIT TO LIST YOURHOME TAKE ADVANTAGE.  

WHAT IS YOUR HOME REALLY WORTH?

If you are looking to sell or buy, please feel free to check
 my website for a FREE Home Market Analysis.

days on the market

 

 

 

10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

You’re in the market for a new home, whether you need more space or less, you must first sell your present residence. One might think that the slow housing marking would potentially have buyers pounding at your door, but this is not necessarily the case. Prices are steady at the moment and seem not to be plummeting any further. This is good for a buyer and can be good for you, however, home buyers are smarter and leerier these days. They are less apt to make hasty decisions and less apt to buy out of their range, which is partially what contributed to the great housing market collapse. Houses are selling these days, but how quickly they sell is really up to you, the seller, and your agent. The houses that move are those that are priced well. Today’s buyer is savvy and has done his research. Buyers also want a turn-key home that is immediately ready for them to move in and unpack. What they don’t want are…

pinterest keep kitchens clean when selling your home 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

1. Bad Smells

Nothing is more of a turn-off than walking into a house that has a smell. Before you sell your home walk through with a friend, a Realtor, or someone you can rely on to give you an unbiased opinion. You will want to get rid of the source of any bad odor as soon as possible. Pets are big culprits, especially cats. If you have a cat, kitty litters need to be cleaned as often as possible and kept, if possible, in a remote or out of sight location. Wall to wall carpeting can harbor bad smells as well, especially if pets are present in the home. Clean all carpets professionally prior to listing your home. If you have a fan above your stove get in the habit of using it regularly to keep from cooking foods with particularly strong odors, such as fish, the evening before an open house or a showing. If your basement smells dank and musty consider purchasing a dehumidifier to clear the air of moisture and odors. If you can pop some chocolate chip cookies in the oven, or maybe an apple pie now that it’s fall. While some smells are offensive to home buyers, some are very inviting!

clean kitchens a must to sell your home yelp 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

2. Dirty house, especially bathrooms and kitchens

Having a house on the market is tough and hard work, especially when you have young children at home. If you don’t have time to clean your house daily, and really, nobody does, concentrate on your kitchen and bathrooms. Make sure floors are vacuumed and devoid of spills, crumbs and dirt. Make sure counters are wiped clean and that there are no dirty dishes in the sink. Don’t hide them in the oven for a quick remedy, house buyers are nosy and will look in your oven and any drawer or cabinet that can be opened! Keep a set of clean, dry towels on hand for the kitchen and bathroom for showing purposes.
pinterest living room tidy to sell home 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

3. Messy house

This is really an extension of the last point.  The average home buyer has a hard time looking past your clutter and mess. Simple, easy tasks, can make all the difference. If you have children you know that clutter happens. I am a huge fan of wicker baskets. They are inexpensive, efficient and look nice in your home. Invest in a few wicker baskets  as a quick way to stash toys when you don’t have time for an overhaul. Laundry is perhaps the hardest thing to keep on top of and is the most time consuming. If you don’t have time to wash, fold and put away your laundry on a daily basis, pick up a couple more wicker baskets to stow away clean, folded laundry so it doesn’t look like an eyesore. In the kitchen and in the bathroom clear away bottles and containers. Bowls of fresh fruit and vases or pitchers of fresh flowers not only look pretty but often make a room smell lovely.

selling your home neutral colors 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

4. Poorly lit rooms

No one wants to enter a dark house, especially someone who wants to buy your home. If a house is too poorly lit they may tend to wonder what you are trying to hide. Replace dim or burnt out light bulbs with high efficiency, bright bulbs to brighten up your space. If need be, pick up a few stylish lamps that will not only brighten your home but can add to your home decor. If you have big windows, take advantage of them. Make sure they are clean and make sure that drapes and curtains are not blocking the natural sunlight.  When it comes to selling your room, lighting really can be everything.
no wall paper when trying to sell home 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

5. Loud Walls and Busy Wallpaper

Shhhhhh!! Most likely the person who ends up buying your home will not have the same taste and style you do. They say one decorates their home for living, and one should re-decorate their home for selling. When you sell your home, you must remove yourself and your history from the overall picture. A home buyer wants to be able to envision him or herself in your home, not wonder about you, your lifestyle and your family. You don’t want to distract from the task at hand which is to sell your home. Tone down those bright and cheery colors and save them for your next home. Instead, use softer, more neutral tones like creams and off-whites that can make spaces like lighter, airier and brighter. If your home is covered in brightly patterned wallpaper you ought to give serious consideration to removing that as well. Potential buyers may be deterred by the paper knowing what a colossal  a nuisance it is to remove it.

well maintained outside of home pinterest 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

 

6. Unkempt yards, untrimmed bushes

Nothing is more unwelcoming than pulling up to a potentially Haunted House! Make sure your yard is well mowed, all bushes and hedges are trimmed. If you can add or fix up your landscaping with fresh or potted plants. The outside of your home is the first thing that will be seen. Let it be a great reflection of you and a great indication of what’s yet to be seen on the inside.

wall to wall carpeting 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

7. Wall to wall carpeting

If you can, please remove them. These days home buyers are looking for hardwood floors throughout. Even if they aren’t in the best of shape, hardwood floors are much more appealing than wall to wall carpeting. If you can’t rip out the wall to wall, please have it professionally steam cleaned.

entryways selling home 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

8. Neglected entryways

This is the first room everyone sees as soon as they pass through the front door. This is your greeting card. Let it be warm, friendly and welcoming. A simple bouquet of flowers, it need not necessarily be elaborate, makes a lovely statement. Clear out closets, and make sure that stray shoes and other items are neatly put away.

pet house 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

9. Your pets

May people are allergic. Many children are scared. Please keep your pets away from your home whenever possible.

via tumblr garage when showing your home leave 10 Things Home Buyers Hate About Your Home!

10. You!

I’m sure you are lovely and you know your home like no one else, but a potential home buyer simply does not want you there, or anywhere nearby. If you remain at home they won’t stay, they won’t linger and they won’t take their time to look around to get a proper look and feel. You will not be doing yourself any favors by remaining at home. Leave the selling to your Realtor, that’s why, after all, you’ve hired him (or her!)

Posted by: Freshome.com

 

5 REASONS TO SELL NOW

by The KCM Crew on March 18, 2014 in For Sellers

 

Spring-Luxury-Home
Many sellers are still hesitant about putting their house up for sale. Where are prices headed? Where are interest rates headed? Can buyers qualify for a mortgage? These are all valid questions. However, there are several reasons to sell your home sooner rather than later. Here are five of those reasons.

1. The Most Serious Buyers Are Out Now

Most people realize that the housing market is hottest from April through June. The most serious buyers are well aware of this and, for that reason, come out in early spring in order to beat the heavy competition. These buyers are ready, willing and able to buy…and are in the market right now!

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing supply always grows from the spring through the early summer. The choices buyers have will continue to increase over the next few months. Don’t wait until all the other potential sellers in your market put their homes up for sale.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

One of the biggest challenges of the 2014 housing market has been the length of time it takes from contract to closing. Banks are requiring more and more paperwork before approving a mortgage. As the market heats up, banks will be inundated with loan inquiries causing closing timelines to lengthen. Selling now will make the process quicker and simpler.

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move-Up

If you are moving up to a larger, more expensive home, consider doing it now. Prices are projected to appreciate by over 19% from now to 2018. If you are moving to a higher priced home, it will wind-up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait. You can also lock-in your 30 year housing expense with an interest rate at about 4.5% right now. Rates are projected to be well over 5% by this time next year.

5. It’s Time to Move On with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and decide whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than your health? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

You already know the answers to the questions we just asked. You have the power to take back control of the situation by pricing your home to guarantee it sells. The time has come for you and your family to move on and start living the life you desire.

That is what is truly important.

Should Parents Pay for College?

How much are parents supposed to pay out of the kids college tuition. Do you think you are responsible for all or part of it. Read more…

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment?

1. Parents are responsible to pay for all of it.

2. Parents should help, but the student should contribute.

3. Students should pay the entire cost.

How To Avoid Data Theft When Using Public Wi-Fi

Each week seems to bring news of yet another security breach that puts our personal information into the hands of hackers. The username and password theft here at Forbes.com, the hack of Kickstarter users’ contact info, and of course, the massive data breach at Target TGT -1.19% are just a few examples highlighting the ongoing battle for data security. But the recent emphasis on data theft from websites and retailers makes it all too easy to lose sight of an even more prevalent security and privacy disaster: the public Wi-Fi networks that we eagerly seek out in coffee shops, hotel rooms and airports.

Photo Credit: Adam Pantozzi/Times Alliance

Wi-Fi hotspots are surprisingly easy targets for hackers looking to steal your data. Photo Credit: Adam Pantozzi/Times Alliance

“The proliferation of public Wi-Fi is one of the biggest threats to consumer data,” says David Kennedy, founder of information security firm TrustedSec. “A hacker can monitor the network traffic of an entire store with an iPad-sized device hidden away in his backpack.” The issue isn’t just that the networks are so easy to attack. With little public awareness that the threat even exists, users routinely expose valuable personal data over Wi-Fi hotspots, making the networks an even more attractive target.

Security experts point to a number of options that hackers can use to gain access to personal information. But they all stem from the fact that the public network is, well, public. “The fact that anyone can join the network is what makes it so unsafe,” cautions Matthew Green, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins’ Information Security Institute. ”A password login to join the network might feel reassuring,” he adds, “but if everybody knows the password, that’s no better than not having one at all.” A hacker’s first task is simply getting on the same network that you’re using. Whether the network password is doled out by the barista at the counter or printed in your hotel room’s welcome packet, once it is public, your security is automatically compromised.

Verify the network name

One extremely common attack involves a hacker setting up a public Wi-Fi hotspot of their own at your favorite Wi-Fi watering hole. It will likely have a name very similar to the hotspot the legitimate business is offering. This attack is effective because the nefarious hotspot actually works, allowing you to browse the web as you normally would. The problem is that all of your emails, site logins and social media activity are being routed through the hacker’s network, where they can be monitored and collected. Before connecting to any hotspot, ask an employee for the shop’s full network name and carefully check that it matches the one you see in your Wi-Fi menu.

Look for “https” in the url bar

Encrypting the communication between your computer and any site you visit can go a long way towards maintaining privacy and security. Fortunately, the most widely implemented form of encryption involves nothing more on your end than taking a careful look at your browser’s url bar. A site address begining with “https” – it’s the “s” that’s crucial – indicates that SSL encryption is active. Your browser will also display a padlock icon in the address bar to indicate an SSL connection is active. With SSL encryption, the information you send and receive appears garbled to prying eyes, so that even if your communication is intercepted, it’s unreadable. The SSL protocol is one that websites implement on their back-end and it has long been standard practice for financial institutions and communication sites like Gmail,Facebook, and Twitter. Certainly any online shopping site you visit should have SSL enabled when you reach a login page, view your account information, or enter payment details.

A crucial part of SSL’s effectiveness lies in the fact that before the encryption process is even begun, the website actually verifies its identity to your browser. If your browser cannot verify that the site is actually what it claims to be, you’ll get a pop-up window alerting you to an “untrusted” security certificate. While there can be benign reasons behind an SSL verification warning, Kennedy advises that when using public Wi-Fi, “If you see this warning, do not visit the site. Period.”

Use a VPN service

If you’d like to ensure that all of your browsing traffic is encrypted, no matter what sites you visit or mobile apps you use, consider signing up for a VPN (virtual private network) service. A VPN service adds a physical barrier between you and the web by routing all of your communications, in an encrypted format, through a physical server controlled by the VPN company. It is only after your encrypted communication passes through the VPN server that it reaches the web. Someone snooping on traffic over the Wi-Fi network will just see garbled data passing between your computer or device and this secondary VPN server. Because the interaction with the web is actually happening through a middleman – the VPN server – a measure of user anonymity is provided as well. Two reliable and low-cost VPN services that I use regularly are Private Internet Access and TunnelBear. Both can be used with desktop computers as well as Android and iOS devices, with monthly subscriptions available for less than $7 and prepaid annual plans offered at a discounted rate.

Keep your software up to date

Data security is an arms race, and to keep your defenses up, it is crucial that you’re running the latest updates for your operating system and web browser. This point was emphasized just last month, as Apple AAPL +0.25% was forced toissue updates to its iOS and OS X users to fix a bug that compromised SSL encryption.

There’s no magic bullet for data security. While site owners and retailers must clearly step up their game in protecting our privacy, we also need to do our part in eliminating at least the low-hanging fruit for hackers. Fortunately, with just a little awareness, and these simple steps, you can protect your data and still enjoy the convenience of public Wi-Fi.

Source: “Hackers Love Public Wi-Fi, But You Can Make It Safe,” Forbes.com (March 4, 2014)

10 Smartest Cities in America

DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | WEDNESDAY, MARCH 05, 2014

Nerds, rejoice! The glasses-wearing, book-carrying library cardholder may get laughed at in popular culture for embodying the virtues of geekdom — but in these 10 cities, he’s the cream of the crop.

CreditDonkey.com conducted a study identifying the top 10 smartest cities in America, and the results may surprise you. (Los Angeles may seem like a vapid Hollywood shrine, but the city has an above-average rate of residents with a bachelor’s degree.)

To determine the results, Credit Donkey used U.S. Census data to find the statistical average of residents with bachelor’s degrees in each metropolitan area (it’s 26% nationally). Then, the site counted how many Mensa chapters there are in the city’s state and took a look at the city’s rate of property crimes — which Credit Donkey deems “generally unintelligent behavior.”

These are the top 10 smartest cities in America:

1. San Jose, Calif.

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 45.7%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 10
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,603

2. Boston

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 43%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 5
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 1,984

3. San Diego

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 34.1%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 10
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,197

4. Raleigh, N.C.

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 41.2%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 4
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,471

5. Los Angeles

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 31.30%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 10
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,297

6. Denver

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 38.9%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 4
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,747

7. Chicago

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 34.4%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 5
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,677

8. Rochester, N.Y.

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 32.3%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 7
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,645

9. Philadelphia

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 33.3%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 5
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,666

10. Richmond, Va.

  • Population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 32.1%
  • Mensa chapters in state: 5
  • Property crimes per 100,000 people: 2,563

Source: “Study: Smartest Cities,” CreditDonkey.com (March 3, 2014)

Read more:

The Smart Class: Expand Training on a Tight Budget
Are You Smart Casual or Business Casual?
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