Apartment Hunting in South Boston

Finding a New Apartment

Summer is apartment-hunting season for many. If you are aiming to enter a new home at the end of the summer, don’t delay − now is the time to look around and lock down your new location. Competition for apartments in South Boston can be heavy in the summer months. Therefore, the sooner you start checking out available places, the more options you are likely to have, and the greater probability that you’ll find something that’s just right for you, your lifestyle and your budget.

Before signing a lease and moving into a new home, take the time to find the best match possible between what you need and want in an apartment, and what’s available. Below are some hints to help guide you in the selection and preparation of your flat:

  • Landlords usually paint the walls between tenants. If you have specific or quirky color tastes, check to see if they’ll allow you to supply your own paint.
  • If the appliances are very old, and not energy efficient, ask if they can be replaced.
  • Read the lease – every detail – to be sure that you understand penalties or restrictions related to early lease termination and subletting.
  • Note locations of all the smoke alarms.
  • Ask if pets are allowed. How about fish tanks?
  • Be clear about parking costs, if any. Is parking assigned?
  • Locate the closest public transportation stops.
  • Hang out in the space a bit to listen for noise. How much comes through the walls? Are there noises from the neighbors?
  • Find out whether someone is reachable 24/7 for emergency maintenance issues.
  • Take a look at the laundry facilities, if the building has some. How many machines are shared by how many apartments? If there are no facilities on site, where is the closest laundromat?
  • Have the landlord show you a storage unit. Is there an additional cost for storage unit rental?
  • Ask about restrictions regarding putting nails in the walls.
  • Try to find out about your potential neighbors. Are they families with young children? College students? Retirees?
  • Familiarize yourself with the building’s security features (locks, alarms, security cameras, etc.).
  • Be practical: Can your couch and your giant box spring fit through the door?

For additional guidance, you can reference the Boston Rental Housing Center online.

Also, if you haven’t already enlisted the help of a real estate agent in your search for your new South Boston apartment, consider doing so immediately. A qualified real estate agent knows the area inside-and-out, and can help paint a realistic picture of not only what’s available now but also what may become available at your price range in the locations you desire. Remember, it’s important to work with a realtor fully knowledgeable about the South Boston market.

The bottom line is, if you are looking to find a new apartment in South Boston this summer, time is of the essence. Remember to ask the right questions and leverage available resources to help you secure an apartment that will make you very, very happy!

 

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

Online Interior Design and Decorating Resources

Interior Design

Web resources on design are often so scrumptious, it’s a delight to surf their pages, even if you don’t have a specific project in mind. However, if you are looking for a way to brighten up your home, you’ll find not only gorgeous layouts, but also breathtaking (or adorable) objects and materials, and examples of clever uses of space to inspire beyond your wildest dreams.

Check out what each of these online design websites has in store for the inspiration you’re seeking:

HGTV is a foundational resource when thinking of designing and decorating your home. It’s a great place to start.

Dezeen features international furniture and fashion design ideas and news, as well as job and internship listings in the fields of architecture and design.

Design Boom brings you art, architecture, design and technology reports and links.

House of Fifty/Isabella & Max Rooms takes you step-by-step through everything from fence-decorating to making high-end-looking lamps and other home accessories for less.

Design Sponge showcases before-and-after photos of room renovations, and fun DIY projects.

More Design Please organizes information into DIY, food, art and décor categories.

Nest has blog postings on fabric, furniture, floors, fixtures, and even giveaways.

Freshome provides photo essays of houses and apartments from around the world, with plenty of suggestions for the revamping of specific rooms.

MoCo Loco highlights unique modern contemporary (hence, MoCo) design elements, architecture and art.

Minimalismi is the site for all you minimalists.

DIY Network, when you are ready to tackle a design or renovation project yourself.

Elle Decor is all about style. It delivers decorating inspiration and architecture and renovation ideas, plus lots more.

 

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

South Boston Waterfront/Seaport District is Hot Hot Hot

South Boston Waterfront/Seaport District

The South Boston Waterfront is Boston’s hottest up-and-coming district. Boston officials, along with developers, foresee the creation of a thriving network of mixed-use buildings and open spaces, with sustained public activity well into the wee hours of the morning. Currently, office workers head home to other sections of the city and beyond once 5pm rolls around. The hope is that the Waterfront attracts entrepreneurs and families, becoming a place to not only work, but also to dine, shop, explore, and establish a home.

Proposals include construction of close to 2,000 apartments in buildings that will house retail space as well. A selection of the residences will be small and relatively inexpensive with shared common areas in order to meet regulations of a city program for affordable housing in the Seaport District, which is part of the larger South Boston Waterfront.

Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has called the 1,000-acre South Boston Waterfront area the “Innovation District,” where a number of businesses – and an academic institution — have been moving in over the past couple of years. Babson College, known for its training in entrepreneurship, has opened a satellite campus for graduate school courses, lectures and other events. Boaters pull up to the Liberty Wharf and visit new restaurants that cater to lovers of steak, seafood and Mexican fare. The Fan Pier project now includes the construction of Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ global headquarters and the offering of seasonal music on the newly-built Public Green, which boasts a dramatic view of the harbor.

Liberty Wharf and Fan Pier are part of South Boston’s wonderful HarborWalk along the Waterfront. A recent addition to the Walk is a lovely and spacious footpath with explanatory signs, open seating and viewing areas, off of 1st Street near L Street.

Keep up-to-date with the district’s development plans and progress on the following websites:

 

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

Real Estate Predictions for 2012

Real Estate Marketing Trends for Boston 2012

In looking at 2012, many economists are predicting a somewhat stabilized real estate market, and this spells opportunity for many house hunters in South Boston. Although the past few years have brought challenges, we are in the beginning phases of a real estate market rebound. And the upcoming stability in the housing market will offer you many opportunities accordingly.

From a national perspective, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, predicts that home prices nationwide may drop another 3 to 5 percent in 2012, but that we should still experience an overall leveling of prices. Zandi points to 2013 as the fulcrum for an uptick in home pricing gains.

Boston has been more stable than the home pricing environment in many cities across the country, and we can continue to expect Boston to be comparatively strong. With the predicted stability in 2012 and the predicted uptick in 2013, the new year may be the perfect time to purchase your next home, offering buyers an equally fantastic buying opportunity and investment opportunity.

Along with stable housing prices, economists are predicting that the current, low mortgage rates (which hit record lows in 2011) will continue in 2012. Kiplinger’s article “What’s Ahead for Home Prices in 2012” states that the average interest rate on 30-year fixed mortgages is expected to stay between 4 to 5 percent for the coming year.

In looking at the South Boston market in particular, rental apartment inventory has been low, providing home hunters an opportunity to buy at lower prices than renting in certain instances. This is a unique opportunity, given the relative flatline trend in home prices and the available cost savings in comparison to renting.

Whatever you decide for your housing needs in 2012, make sure to consider your various options and view multiple properties to ensure your next home is the right home for you.

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

Winterizing the Inside of Your Home

Winterizing the Inside of Your Home

As the recent storm reminded us, staying comfortable and safe indoors during a South Boston winter requires more than sweaters by day and woolen pajamas by night:

  • Check your chimney for soot build-up: It should be cleaned before it reaches one-fourth inch thickness inside the flue. A chimney sweep can clean out the entire chimney.
  • Inspect the brick in the fireplace for open mortar joints that can allow fire to spread to the wall. Call an expert to have repairs done.
  • Make sure fireplace door and damper seal tightly.
  • Check all windows and doors for air leaks. Then place putty, caulk or weatherstripping as needed.
  • Test and lubricate your sump pump.
  • Insulate exposed pipes with electrical heating tape and foam insulation.
  • Inspect your hot water heater for leaks.
  • Vacuum baseboard heaters.
  • Just before it gets cold, and then monthly throughout the winter, clean permanent furnace filters and replace paper or disposable filters.
  • Clear heating vents of all obstacles.
  • Check the routine maintenance schedule for your heating system: If you’re due to have it looked at, call a technician, or inspect it yourself with a handy guide.

 

Photo Credit

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

Winterizing the Outside of Your Home

Winterize Home - South Boston

Snow-covered hills and ski slopes, and sparkling icicles dangling from tree branches contribute to making winter a wonderland. However, the harsh reality of damage and discomfort caused by both severe South Boston winter weather and poor home maintenance can interrupt our enjoyment of the season’s beauty and fun. Here are some tips for preparing the outside of your home for the coming changes. Next week, we’ll look at winterizing from the inside.

* If you have an air conditioning condensing unit outside, hose it down and cover it for the winter. As for window air conditioning units, either remove them for the season, or close the vents and cover them. Waterproof covers are specially made for both these kinds of units.

* Remove any nests that have been built in the chimney.

* Open exterior faucets and drain water from them. In addition, they need to have their water supply turned off inside the house. If you keep garden hoses outside, disconnect and drain them as well.

* Turn off the water supply to your sprinkler system, and have compressed air blown through the sprinkler lines to prevent freezing and breakage.

* Clean your gutters of wet leaves and other debris that might both block the flow of water run-off and freeze, adding undue weight that can cause damage.

* Put storm windows in place.

* Put away or cover patio furniture and barbecues.

* Drain the gas from your lawn mower or just let the mower run until it is out of gas.

* Check for driveway and walkway and other concrete cracks, and seal them. Water and snow in those crevices will freeze, causing the cracks to deepen and expand.

* Reset exterior light timers following the changing-of-the-clock at the end of this month.

* Rake leaves and garden debris. Compost what you can, or place it in large bags for pick-up.

* And, to look forward to the thaw six months down the road, plant bulbs that will flower in the spring, such as tulips, hyacinths and daffodils.

 

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

Home Improvements for Under $500

Home Improvements for Under $500

Tackling home improvement projects can seem daunting. But it is possible to make an impact with a relatively small step, and a smaller-than-expected investment.

* Paint a room or two, or just some walls. A fresh coat of paint goes a long way in sprucing up living quarters. Even a block of color in a hallway can make for a wonderful change.

* Clean your chimney and fireplace. Ignored by homeowners all too often, this task improves home safety immeasurably.

* Install a ceiling fan. The energy-efficient ceiling fan is also an aesthetic addition to a room.

* Repair your air conditioner. In the off-season, you may be able to get a good discount on this service.

* Clean your windows. To allow the most possible light into your home to nourish those plants you cherish, brighten up your reading corner, and warm your loved ones in the winter, you need clean windows. The outsides should be washed at least several times a year.

* Clean the carpets. Hire the professionals. We don’t even want to think about what might be resting or growing in the depths of those plush threads.

* Upgrade the lighting. A fixture that costs a few hundred dollars may be all that a certain room needs to be brought up-to-date.

* Add storage solutions. You may have certain rooms which are not necessarily in bad shape, but are just poorly organized. Purchase a few storage solutions and get everything in the right place, and you could have a room that looks like it had a make-over without spending the money for one.

* Revitalize your bathroom. A new towel rack; a high-quality shower head; luxurious towels; a charming or quirky shower curtain or soap dish: these are all simple ways to enhance the bathroom.

* Hire a carpenter or handyperson. A skilled repairperson can save you time and money, and get numerous jobs done, perhaps, in one visit.

 

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

Making Moving Easier

Moving Tips - Making Moving Easier

Moving to a new home can be extremely stressful. If the end of summer finds you about to undertake a move, though, have no fear. Below are a few tips for alleviating some of the anxiety associated with the transition from one household to another:

Create a “To-Do” List

This will include everything from contacting utility companies to changing your address with the Postal Service to coordinating the transportation of your belongings. There are a number of such checklists available online. Good examples include the “Ultimate Moving Checklist” from Movers-Edge and the Real SimpleMoving Checklist”.

Give Yourself Sufficient Time

If possible, give yourself plenty of time to pack. It often takes much longer than we imagine to box up books and papers, wrap fragile items safely and disassemble any furniture or other things that will travel more securely once taken apart. You might even want to host a packing party – you provide the pizza and packing materials; friends and relatives help with the physical labor! Be sure that you and your pals keep each box at a reasonable weight for lifting.

Streamline

Weed out what you don’t need. As you go through your clothes and other possessions, toss what is broken, torn or otherwise unusable; place aside items to donate. Find a drop box or local organization that accepts contributions. On moving day, your load will ultimately be lighter, and you will have done a good deed.

Aim for a Weekday

Speaking of “moving day,” aim to schedule yours on a weekday. Banks as well as utility and government offices are open, in case you need last-minute assistance. Note that many moving companies accept only cash, money orders or a certified check on the day of the move.

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

Crash Course on Summer Apartment Hunting in South Boston

Summer Apartment Hunting in South Boston

As the saying goes, never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after. But if your lease is up at the end of August and you’re still looking for an apartment anywhere in the Boston area, the day of reckoning is fast approaching. South Boston is no exception, of course, and it goes without saying that the rental market here has never been tighter. If you’ve been coming up short in your search for apartments in Southie, now is the time to pull out all the stops.

Get to work now. Not later, but now. The more you are out there gathering information and exploring your options, the more choices you’ll have and the better informed decisions you’ll make.

One thing is for certain: if you haven’t already enlisted the help of a real estate agent in your search, consider doing so immediately. A qualified real estate agent knows the area inside-and-out, and can help paint a realistic picture of not only what’s available now but also what may become available at your price range in the locations you desire. Remember, it’s important to find a realtor sufficiently savvy about the South Boston market and energetic in their efforts on your behalf.

In the interest of disclosure, we at Joyce Lebedew Real Estate are the source of this advice, but the situation is what it is. More than 50% of apartment rentals in South Boston are handled by real estate agents, and the percentage for luxury properties is estimated to be even higher.

With or without an agent, some knowledge of the dos and don’ts of renting an apartment in Boston can give you an upper hand. One of the best ways to bone up fast on practical and legal considerations is to pay a visit to Boston City Hall. No, you don’t need to go there in person. Just visit the Rental Housing Resource Center or download their Good Neighbors Handbook. If you are a student, check out their list of the Top Ten Things Students Should Know Before Renting.

When you are looking at apartments, be sure to tour the properties in person. Go beyond the basics and remember the little things. Ask about storage, washer & dryer, parking for your car, bicycle or scooter, etc.

If you’re a pet owner, another must-read is an article we published on the South B Blog in March that includes tips for renters looking for a pet-friendly apartment.

And feel free to contact us for a free, no-pressure consultation. Sure, you could do the legwork yourself, but if what you really need is a leg up finding the ideal home for yourself in South Boston, give us a call at 617-269-6400, and we’ll get to work finding a place that’s just right for you!

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.

 

Staging Your Residential Property to Sell or Lease in South Boston

To stage or not to stage? You don’t need to be a genius to do the math. A small investment in making your property more appealing can have a fantastic payoff. Especially in a competitive real estate market like South Boston.

A recent New York Times article highlights the bottom-line benefits of staging, citing compelling anecdotal examples. In one case, a $700 investment on a fresh bath mat and fluffy white towels reportedly added $25,000 to the selling price of an apartment. In another example, a landlord’s $1,600 investment in new appliances allowed him to increase the monthly rent on a property by $250. One broker reported that $20,000 spent on new kitchen cabinets and paint added $107,000 to the selling price of a client’s apartment.

Staging can also help reduce the amount of time a property remains on the market. For example, a Kiplinger article cites a market analysis indicating that homes listed for sale prior to staging sat on the market for an average of four-and-a-half months and sold within just over a week afterward.

Enough already. If you’re sold on the merits of staging and want to learn more, below are some suggestions from the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate team:

When preparing a property for sale, the devil is in the details. Homeowners and landlords sometimes are myopic when it comes to the virtues and faults of their own properties, particularly if they’ve invested any sweat equity. Creative plumbing fixes, uneven surfaces, mix-and-match fixtures and cabinets that don’t hang straight are dead giveaways.

Idiosyncratic taste is another prime offender. Garish entryways, ornate valances and comfy recliners may push some prospective buyers and renters outside their comfort zone. No wonder we real estate pros favor muted, neutral shades and nondescript furniture and fixtures. Face it. To attract the buyers or renters you want, you may need to redecorate. At a minimum, your space needs to photograph well or you may not be showing it at all!

Anything you can do to make your property more welcoming will help ease a prospective buyer or renter sooner into an agreement that works for you. It goes without saying: eliminate clutter, make sure your space is immaculate and repair anything damaged or worn. You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money. It’s amazing what a difference a fresh coat of paint and new carpeting can make. And while you’re at it, why not throw in a set of fluffy white towels!

If you need to hire a local contractor for any redecorating, remodeling or repair work in South Boston, please check our handyman and contractor recommendations.

If you need expert guidance on staging, please contact us. The Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team has the know-how and commitment to make sure you get top dollar when selling or renting your South Boston property.

Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team