Seller Testimonial – Wellesley

Michelle was very supportive and understanding in dealing with a sale of our Mom’s house. Mom is 85 and leaving her home of 58 years so it was a big deal. Michelle also dealt smoothly with two siblings on opposite side of the country. Her communication was responsive, clear and we always felt that she was doing her best for us. There were some ups and downs in finding the right buyer and Michelle kept working her networks to keep us the process which was ultimately successful and we were very pleased with the final price and the overall process. 

Joel Kushner, CA

7 Landscaping Mistakes That Wreck Curb Appeal

Outdoors Landscaping & Gardening Curb Appeal
Don’t let badly designed or maintained landscaping wreck your home’s curb appeal.
Here are pitfalls to avoid.

Clumsy, neglected, and hodgepodge landscaping not only hurts your home’s curb appeal, it can cut the value of your property and make it harder to sell.
Real estate appraisers say bad landscaping is a buyer turnoff that can increase the number of days a property languishes on the market, which also hurts prices.
Even more important, bad landscaping is a downer that hurts the way you see and enjoy your home.
Don’t let bad landscaping happen to you. Here are the seven landscaping mistakes that bust, rather than boost, your home’s curb appeal.

1. Planting Without A Plan
Some landscaping choices, such as a line of begonias, will last a season; others, like trees,
can last a lifetime. So, take time to plan and plot a yard that gives you maximum enjoyment
and curb appeal.
For the design challenged, landscape architects are worth the investment ($300-$2,500
depending on yard size). They will render elevations of your future yard, and provide plant
lists so you can install landscaping yourself.

2. Too Much Togetherness
Yes, planting in clusters looks way better than installing single plants, soldier-like, throughout
your yard. But make sure your groups of perennials, shrubs, and trees have plenty of room to
spread, or they’ll look choked and overgrown. Also, over-crowded landscaping competes
with itself for food and water, putting the clusters at risk, especially during drought.
Google how high and wide the mature plant will be, and then combine that info with the suggestions on planting labels. At first, garden beds of young plants will look too airy and prairie-like. But within three years, your beds will fill in with room to grow.

Remember: First year it sleeps, second it creeps, third it leaps.

3. Zoning Out
Don’t be seduced by catalog plants that look gorgeous on paper but aren’t suited to your
hardiness zone. You’ll wind up with plants that die prematurely, or demand winter covers,
daily watering, and other intensive efforts to keep them alive and well.
Check plant labels to see which hardiness zones are best for your plants.

4. More of the Same
Resist the design temptation to carpet-bomb your yard with your favorite plant or shrub,
which will create a boring, monochromatic landscape. Worse, your yard will look great when
your fave flowers bloom, then will look drab the rest of the year.
Mix things up and strive for four-season color. For example, combine spring-blooming
azaleas with summer-blooming roses and autumn-blazing shrubs — such as burning
bushes (Euonymus alatus). For winter color, try the red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera),
a hardy shrub that sports bright-red branches in winter.
Related:

5. Refusing to Bury Your Dead
Nothing wrecks curb appeal faster than rows of dead or dying shrubs and perennials. So
quickly remove your dearly departed landscaping from your front and side yards.
Spent plants that lived their natural lives are good candidates for a compost pile — if you
grind them first, they’ll decompose faster. But if your landscaping succumbed to disease or
infestation, it’s best to inter them in black plastic bags, then add to the trash.

6. Weeds Gone Wild
Weeds not only wreck the look of your landscaping, they compete with pricey vegetation for
water and food. Weeds also can shorten the life of brick, stone, and pavers by growing in
mortar cracks.
The best way to stop weeds is to spread a pre-emergent about three weeks before weed
seeds typically germinate. If you can’t stop weeds from growing, at least get rid of them
before they flower and send a zillion weed seeds throughout your yard.
7. Contain Those Critters
Deer, rabbits, and other backyard pests think your landscaping is an all-you-can eat buffet,
leaving you with denuded branches and topless perennials.
If you’ve got a critter problem:
Plant deer- or rabbit-resistant varieties. Your local extension agent can provide a list of
green things critters won’t eat in your area.
Install an electric fence around landscaping you want to protect.
Spray plants with critter repellent. After a hard rain, spray again.

© Copyright 2013 NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS
By: Lisa Kaplan Gordon

Eight Seconds…

That’s all it takes for most buyers to form a first opinion of yur house.  It is an emotional decision that is made pretty quickly.  Not much different from the process of deciding whether or not you are attracted to someone when you are in dating mode.

So when I hear sellers tell me, “They should be able to look past the deferred maintenance, peeling wallpaper, chipping paint, dirty rugs (insert any other offense to the sensibilities here), it tells me  they have forgotten what that emotional component of buying a house fells like.

Imagine carrying that frame of mind over to the dating world and saying “They should be able to see past the fact that I haven’t washed my hair, ironed my clothes, or picked the spinach out of my teeth and see me for the solid person I am.”  Doesn’t work in the dating world and doesn’t work in selling houses.   Do you want to attract maybe one strange character who goes for that stuff or do you want to make yourself attractive to as great a pool of suitors as possible?

Imagine you are going to a speed dating session.  What results would you expect if you showed up dirty, messy, unkempt, smelly, unshaven….you get the idea.  You would not want to have to find out the answer the hard way, so you wouldn’t take the chance.  You would shower, shave, comb your hair, brush your teeth, dab on something nice-smelling.

Think of the Open House as speed dating for your home.  That is your first chance to make a good impression and to attract as many suitors as possible.  Once you have made a bad first impression, it is pretty near impossible to fix it.

SO, the basics of getting ready for your speed dating session with buyers.

Good Photography and Good Grooming

Buyers are going to judge your house from the pictures online and then by what they see in a drive-by.   Curb appeal is vital.  Keep the lawn mowed, paint if needed, mulch, put out flower pots or plant flowers.  A new doormat and new mailbox makes the whole house seem newer.

Clean Up!

Clean every room from top to bottom, clean out closets and cabinets. Throw out junk that is not moving to the next house with you.  Look at your home with a critical eye.  If paint is chipping, fix it.  If there are cracks in walls, rusty baseboard, etc. take care of it.

Put away the pictures of the ex – Pretty hard to imagine yourself in the life of a new dating partner if their place is a basically a shrine to their ex, right?   Well, buyers want to imagine themselves living in your space.  They don’t want to see how many toys you can cram into one room, family photos hanging everywhere, stuff falling out of closets.   That’s the dating equivalent of having pictures of your ex everywhere.

Brighten Up – Open Windows, pull up shades, put in bright bulbs.  Make sure no bulbs are out.

A New Outfit – To most sellers, staging is a dirty word that basically equates to throwing away their money.  Staged homes typically sell for about 15% more than unstaged homes.   Sounds like money well spent to me.  If you don’t have much money to rent furniture, etc. you can still do a lot by putting new towels and soaps in the bathrooms, and decorating the house with a more critical eye.  Taking stuff away is as important as bringing it in.

Basically, walk through the whole house and look at it as if you were a buyer looking at it for the first time.  Be honest with yourself.   Is it clean, bright, pretty?  Does it smell nice?  Are there no obvious signs of disrepair or deferred maintenance?    As a Realtor, this is what I do.  I look up at the ceiling, down at the baseboards, I scan over everything and what I notice or give you advice on – trust me, the buyers will notice too.    Think of feedback as a gift – a chance to make improvements that are going to get your house sold.  And better to hear it from me before your house goes on the market than to hear it from buyers!

Eight Seconds……

That’s all it takes for most buyers to form a first opinion of yur house.  It is an emotional decision that is made pretty quickly.  Not much different from the process of deciding whether or not you are attracted to someone when you are in dating mode.

So when I hear sellers tell me, “They should be able to look past the deferred maintenance, fushia colorer wallpaper, holes in the floor, (insert any other offense to the sensibilities here), it tells me  they have forgotten what that emotional component of buying a house fells like. And that also tells me it’s going to be a challenging sale!

Imagine carrying that frame of mind over to the dating world and saying “They should be able to see past the fact that I haven’t washed my hair, ironed my clothes, picked the spinach out of my teeth, etc.  and see me for the solid person I am.”  Doesn’t work in the dating world and doesn’t work in selling houses.   Do you want to attract maybe one strange character who goes for that stuff or do you want to make yourself attractive to as great a pool of suitors as possible?

SO, the basics of getting ready for your speed dating session with buyers otherwise known as the Open House:

First Impressons

Buyers are going to judge your house from the pictures online and then what they see in a drive-by.   Curb appeal is vital.  Keep the lawn mowed and the shrubs trimmed, paint if needed, mulch, put out flower pots or plant flowers.  A new doormat and new mailbox makes the whole house seem newer.

Clean Up!

Clean every room from top to bottom, clean out closets and cabinets. Throw out junk that is not moving to the next house with you.  Look at your home with a critical eye.  If paint is chipping, fix it.  If there are cracks in walls, rusty baseboard, etc. take care of it.

De-clutter and De-personalize – Buyers want to imagine themselves living in your space.

Brighten Up – Open Windows, pull up shades, put in bright bulbs.  Make sure no bulbs are out.

Basically, walk through the whole house and look at it as if you were a buyer looking at it for the first time.  Be honest with yourself.   Is it clean, bright, pretty?  Does it smell nice?  Are there no obvious signs of disrepair or deferred maintenance?    As a Realtor, this is what I do.  I look up at the ceiling, down at the baseboards, I scan over everything and what I notice or give you advice on – trust me, the buyers will notice too.    Remember – Feedback is a gift – a chance to make improvements that are going to get your house sold.  And better to hear it from me before your house goes on the market than to hear it from buyers!

 

If you are Contemplating a Short Sale – do it this year!

Back in 2007 Congress approved a debt forgiveness law for homeowners when they do a short sale and the lender forgiveness portion is not repaid.

Normally, the portion forgiven is treated as taxable income to the borrower.  The Debt Forgiveness Act provides relief to troubled borrowers when some portion is forgiven.  That relief expires on Dec 31st, 2012.  The transaction must close by Dec 31st to qualify.  The Act could possibly be extended, but there is no guarantee.   Given how long short sales take to process, if you are considering a short sale, contact your Realtor (me) now to find out your options and how to proceed.

Borrowers whose debt is reduced or eliminated will receive a year-end statement from their lender, IRS Form 1099-C. Eligible homeowners must complete several lines on IRS Form 982 which must be included when filing their federal income tax return to claim the mortgage relief. For more information, review IRS Publication 4681 and IRS Form 982, or consult a qualified accountant or attorney.

Ten Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2011-15, August 8, 2011

The Internal Revenue Service has some important information to share with individuals who have sold or are about to sell their home. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may qualify to exclude all or part of that gain from your income. Here are ten tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your home.

  1. In general, you are eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.
  2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).
  3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.
  4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.
  5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.
  6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.
  7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.
  8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.
  9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.
  10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.

For more information about selling your home, see IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home. This publication is available at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904
michelle@michellelanerealtor.com
www.MichelleLaneRealtor.com

Ten Tax Tips for Individuals Selling Their Home

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2011-15, August 8, 2011

The Internal Revenue Service has some important information to share with individuals who have sold or are about to sell their home. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may qualify to exclude all or part of that gain from your income. Here are ten tips from the IRS to keep in mind when selling your home.

  1. In general, you are eligible to exclude the gain from income if you have owned and used your home as your main home for two years out of the five years prior to the date of its sale.
  2. If you have a gain from the sale of your main home, you may be able to exclude up to $250,000 of the gain from your income ($500,000 on a joint return in most cases).
  3. You are not eligible for the exclusion if you excluded the gain from the sale of another home during the two-year period prior to the sale of your home.
  4. If you can exclude all of the gain, you do not need to report the sale on your tax return.
  5. If you have a gain that cannot be excluded, it is taxable. You must report it on Form 1040, Schedule D, Capital Gains and Losses.
  6. You cannot deduct a loss from the sale of your main home.
  7. Worksheets are included in Publication 523, Selling Your Home, to help you figure the adjusted basis of the home you sold, the gain (or loss) on the sale, and the gain that you can exclude.
  8. If you have more than one home, you can exclude a gain only from the sale of your main home. You must pay tax on the gain from selling any other home. If you have two homes and live in both of them, your main home is ordinarily the one you live in most of the time.
  9. If you received the first-time homebuyer credit and within 36 months of the date of purchase, the property is no longer used as your principal residence, you are required to repay the credit. Repayment of the full credit is due with the income tax return for the year the home ceased to be your principal residence, using Form 5405, First-Time Homebuyer Credit and Repayment of the Credit. The full amount of the credit is reflected as additional tax on that year’s tax return.
  10. When you move, be sure to update your address with the IRS and the U.S. Postal Service to ensure you receive refunds or correspondence from the IRS. Use Form 8822, Change of Address, to notify the IRS of your address change.

For more information about selling your home, see IRS Publication 523, Selling Your Home. This publication is available at www.irs.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).

MICHELLE J. LANE, Realtor
Century 21 Commonwealth
CELL: 617 584-3904
michelle@michellelanerealtor.com
www.MichelleLaneRealtor.com