Wednesday, January 23, 2013
But I found myself wondering what would happen if our peaceful morning ritual were to be shattered by a collision with a car or a school bus. I hope that never happens, of course, but I was pleased to learn that here in Massachusetts, there are at least two insurance companies that will reimburse medical (or even burial) costs for canine or feline passengers who are injured in vehicular accidents.
Progressive has been offering this coverage at no charge for more than five years. It will pay up to $1000 toward veterinary costs if your dog or cat sustains injuries during a car accident, fire, or theft.
Arbella Mutual, based in Quincy, MA, offers Massachusetts drivers an optional pet coverage rider that pays up to $500 towards vet bills for a dog or cat who is hurt in a crash. In contrast to Progressive, Arbella Mutual charges a nominal $20 annual fee for this additional protection.
My current insurer doesn't offer this option, at any price, and I think I owe it to Bobby and Tennessee to switch to a company that does.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
My winter dread has been fueled by a lack of proper equipment to tame the snow when it eventually arrives, as it inevitably does. My longtime plow guy and I parted ways a ew years ago when he charged me for plowing the driveway after I had already shoveled the whole thing myself. I was able to skip along relatively unscathed during last year's relatively modest storms, but I'm afraid I'd allowed myself to become too complacent. I was completely unprepared when two significant snowstorms hit right after Christmas. It took me two days to dig down to the end of my 100' driveway, and I admitted defeat. I needed help.
It came in the guide of the Greenworks 20-inch 12 amp (Electric) Snow Thrower. It was everything I wanted: lightweight, inexpensive (I paid $150 on Amazon, with free shipping), and best of all: it didn't require gasoline or oil. You just plug it in. It arrived a few days after New Year's, and sat in its box until today, when I had to tackle the task of assembling it after a 5" snowfall. I've never been very good at that, but it basically came down to fitting a few metal pieces together and tightening some screws. In 15 minutes, I was good to go.
I'm laughing at myself as I write this, incredulous that I've been inspired to write about a snow blower. That might seem silly, but to me, it's nothing short of liberation. That nifty little green machine cleaned my driveway down to the blacktop with minimal effort in about 90 minutes. With the Greenworks in my arsenal, I'm not trapped anymore, and winter suddenly seems a lot less daunting. I'm free, at last.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
The interesting part of the promotion was that it modeled itself on department store sales by trying to sell houses like were linens marked down at Macy's, "for a limited time only." We don't see that approach too often, and I applaud Coldwell Banker for stepping out of the box to try something new.
It will be interesting to see how many buyers took advantage of this unprecedented opportunity, but in at least one case, the marketing strategy seems to have paid big dividends.
But then, voila!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
And, as Leonhardt explains, "there is no asset more conducive to hopeful overvaluation. That means real estate slumps tend to grind on for years, until sellers submit to reality and reduce their prices." There's just no way around it.
Even though prices are coming down, it appears that they haven't declined enough to stimulate risk-averse buyers. The Warren Group reported yesterday that Bay State single family home sales dropped 19% in February 2008 from what they were in February 2007, when the slowdown had already begun in earnest. This slide was coupled with an 8.8% drop in the median single family home price here, which Warren described as the largest monthly decline in 18 years.
And so it looks like the stalemate may continue for a while longer, unfortunately, until someone blinks.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Each Neighborhood Environmental Report segregates the known current or past environmental issues into two categories: those within a radius of 300 feet (approximately six acres) of a property, and those beyond that circle, up to a distance of about one mile away. It includes information about the location and status of leaking oil storage tanks, landfills, hazardous waste sites, EPA priority cleanup sites, and areas of accidential toxic contamination from fuel spills or industrial leakage.
In many cases, the reports reveal that previous problem sites have been satisfactorily resolved and do not pose a present danger. In other cases, it may be possible to implement precautions or other protective measures to mitigate any risks.
But the important thing is that the EDR "NERs" arm a consumer with the data she needs to make an informed choice about whether to purchase a particular property.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
My client and I looked at a selection of smallish homes in Acton, Harvard and Stow. While all of the homes were modestly priced (for this area), and none of them could be described as "fancy," there were a few that made us feel like whistling and clicking our heels, and a few that made us want to scamper out the door as quickly as we possibly could.
What was the difference? In a word, "light." And for people like me who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, the abundance or scarcity of life-sustaining light in a house may outweigh other salient characteristics when it comes to deciding whether that's the place you'll want to call "home."
We noticed that it wasn't just the size of the windows that made the difference. Equally important was the way in which each house was sited, and in what direction it faced. Homes that are shrouded by trees may reap some cooling benefits during the summer, but in winter, these places can bring you down even on a bright day.
So my advice to buyers who are light-sensitive is to be sure that you visit a home during both morning and afternoon hours before you make an offer. For example, kitchens that are bathed in morning sun may become dungeon-like after 3pm. There are always things you can do to compensate, of course (such as adding mirrors or skylights or painting dark woodwork with lighter-hued colors), but take the time to investigate before you purchase, so you won't find yourself in a funk when February comes next year.
Friday, January 18, 2008
Lest anyone think that the pain in the real estate market is being borne solely by sub-prime buyers in the lower echelons of the market, there is ample evidence in some upscale country towns that this is not the case.
This morning's MLS updates brought the news that an 18-month-old home in the young, up-and-coming Northwoods subdivision has been listed for $950,000, with the unusual disclaimer, "Please save everyone's time; price is nonnegotiable." What makes this case so interesting is that the current owners purchased the 6000-square-foot residence (new) for $1,082,000 in June of 2006 and purportedly poured another $200,000 into it for custom upgrades, including a fully finished lower level. The property is currently assessed for $1,036,900, and ominously, the sale is "subject to bank approval."
The market has not been kind to these sellers. They first listed their home in August, 2007, for $1,250,000, and subsequently reduced it to $1.1 million in October, finally taking it off the market just before Christmas.
There are currently 47 MLS-listed homes on the market in Bolton today, with an average asking price of $833,409. Twelve of these (about 25%) are priced at $900,000 or more. Only one home in the entire town is under contract, that that one is priced much more modestly, under $500,000.
The town's current absorption rate suggests that these upper echelon homes could linger on the market for as long two years. In the last six months, 35 MLS-listed homes were sold in Bolton, with an average sale price of $619,511. Only three of these homes were priced over $900,000, including one in the same Northwoods neighborhood, which closed in December at a reported price of $912,000, excluding buyer-paid upgrades.