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Memorial Day Celebrations and Parades

t’s Memorial Day weekend and in the Greater Boston area that means somewhere within driving (or walking distance) you can watch a parade.  No matter your age, it is almost impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of marching bands, colorful floats, local youth groups throwing candy, waving dignitaries and ear shattering, siren [...]

Tips to Eat Clean During a Kitchen Reno

                            

We talk to so many people who are either currently in the middle of a kitchen renovation, have just finished one, or are thinking about starting one. Aside from the design concerns about layout, materials, and cost, the most frequent frustration we hear is “How can I eat healthy while my kitchen is torn [...]

Great Ideas for April Vacation

April vacation is fast approaching and once again parents are thinking of ways to keep the kids entertained during the school break. As we did for February school vacation, we have developed a list of some of the area's best things to do during April school vacation..  This year April vacation week is April 17th to 21st, meaning not much time to plan.

Bedford's 53rd Annual Pole Capping Ceremony

If you wake up on Saturday, April 8th and head down toward Bedford Center for a cup of coffee and happen to see militia marching in formation, there is no need to run back home, grab the kids and take for cover, nor is there reason to question the wisdom of your choices from the night before.  It is just Bedford’s 53rd Annual Liberty Pole Capping ceremony!

Hippoty Hoppity Easter's On Its Way

Hey kids, you better watch out because Santa isn’t the only one who decides whether we are naughty or nice!  According to German folklore, that cute little bunny, known as the Easter Bunny, Easter Rabbit or Easter Hare, used to go over the naughty or nice list once or twice before deciding whether you got Easter eggs or [...]

Five Reasons to Live in Lexington

   

If you are looking to buy a new home in the Greater Boston area, more than likely the town of Lexington has made it to the top of your list and we can understand why.

This historic town is one of the most sought after towns in our area and here are five of the top reasons why we think you should consider a move to Lexington.

  1. Top-Rated Schools – Massachusetts is home to some of the highest quality schools in the nation and Lexington is a notch above.  The public schools in Lexington are highly rated: Lexington High School is ranked No. 9 in the Bay State and No. 64 nationally according to U.S. News and World Report.  GreatSchools.org consistently gives the elementary and middle schools in Lexington a 10 rating.  The student to teacher ratio is 13:1 and the average spending of $17,496 per student is 64% higher than the national average.  The New York Times blog The Upshot shares that Lexington 6th graders achieved at a level 3.8 grades ahead of the national average.
  2. Rich in History – Every school age child has learned about the “shot heard ‘round the world,” but few actually get to say that they live in the birthplace of Liberty. Lexington, founded in 1713, hosts annual reenactments on Patriot’s Day on the Lexington Green and is home to the National Heritage Museum, the Minuteman Bikeway and other historic sites.
  3. Livability – This historic town has a vibrant town center with upscale shops and restaurants, green space, forests and over 100 walking trails, 26 walkable conservation areas and access to the Minuteman Bikeway.  This charming town is close to major shopping, has its own symphony, natural reservoirs, libraries, museums and a small-town movie theater.
  4. Easy Commute – Commuting in and around Boston can be a bit of a challenge, but residents of Lexington enjoy a ½ hour commute into the city, quick access to the Alewife T Station in Cambridge and close to Rte 95 and Rte 2.
  5. Neighborly – The sense of community in Lexington makes it a truly special town to call home.  Join neighbors at an old-fashioned Home Day celebration, cheer on local groups at the Patriot’s Day parade or spend a warm summer evening at one of the summer concerts.  In the fall, stroll along to enjoy the arts and crafts fair and celebrate the holidays at the lighting ceremony at Lexington Green in December.

If you are looking to buy a home in Lexington, we can help.  We are currently offering a beautiful new construction home located in a great, private neighborhood. Call us to learn more or to tour this stunning home.

Tips for Connecting with Millennial Home Buyers

A New Generation Has Entered the Home Buying Market

                               

Millennials have officially surpassed Baby Boomers and have entered the real estate market as home buyers in the Greater Boston real estate market!  Great news, right?  Yes, and this generation is tipping the scales, not only in sheer numbers, but in the way that they approach home buying.  Successful real estate agents will need to make some adjustments to connect with this new group of home buyers.

Here are seven tips on how to successfully connect with home buying millennials.

Tip # 1 - Master Social Media

Social media was introduced by millennial Mark Zuckerberg, so it only makes sense that this generation has thoroughly embraced it.  They use social media to communicate with friends and family, to be entertained, to engage with businesses and to conduct research.

Real estate agents don’t only have to be on social media, they must become masters of social media. 

Sure, you should post a picture of your most recent listing and share industry news, but if that is all you are doing, it just isn’t enough.

Instagram and Facebook live make it fun and easy to connect with potential buyers.

For example: Highlight a great pool - gather the crew, sunglasses, flip flops and animal character swim rings and heading to the property to record an impromptu pool party on a hot, sunny day!  Record it live and share it socially.  If you have a client that has a pool on the top of his “must have” list, send him the video with a message about the listing.

Another example of social media mastery: If your new listing has an amazing chef quality kitchen, why not bring in a local chef and video a cooking class from this kitchen, share it live on social media. Post it on your website or YouTube channel and attach it to the MLS listing!

Be clever (not cliché) in your captions and always link them back to your website or listing.

Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat all have some version of stories and geofiltering, which allows you to overlay information such as where and when!  This is a great branding tool!

Tip # 2 - Mobilize

We aren’t suggesting you get rid of that rotary phone, we are just thinking maybe move it to a shelf because this generation is all about going mobile!

They would rather communicate by text or instant messenger than to pick up the phone and have a conversation! 

They don’t just use their phones to communicate, they rely on their smart phones for just about everything; from shopping, to getting facts to finding that perfect restaurant and yes, you guessed it, that perfect house.  Millennials are constantly connected!

Make sure when the millennial asks Siri to find the perfect real estate agent, you are her first recommendation by optimizing your website and local listings.

Make your site is mobile friendly and develop your own app or get your listings in top real estate apps like HomeSpotter to help stay connected to potential millennial home buyers.

Tip # 3 - Get Close and Personal

This generation expects a personal buying experience; think personalized Coke cans, Starbucks cups or the Amazon shopping experience.  They don’t want to waste time looking at houses (or anything for that matter) that aren’t going to match their needs.

They won’t mind you gathering information about them, but they will resent you not using it. They want to go to a real estate agency where “everybody knows their name”, a reference to that old Cheers song (which by the way they probably won’t get) but the key is that they will expect you to know them.

While it may sound a bit like stalking, take a few minutes to look at their social media and professional profiles to get to know them better, trust us, they looked at yours!

Tip # 4 – Earn Their Trust

Many millennial home buyers have put off purchasing that first home until their late twenties or even in to their thirties.  As a result, they are often first time home buyers and they want to know that they can trust you to not only find them their perfect home, but to wade through the muddy waters of home purchasing.

One way to do this is to make certain that common questions and answers are included (and optimized) on your website and don’t just title them FAQs, try something creative such as “Everything you wanted to know about home buying, but were afraid to ask”.

Another way is to position yourself as a trusted, knowledgeable resource by authoring creative, informative content.  Write and publish relevant blogs on your own website as well as becoming a guest writer on industry blogs and publications.

This group loves infographics; develop and distribute (print, website, social media) infographics on the buying process, the various home features, attributes of neighborhoods, and more.

Tip # 5 – Be Neighborly

Millennials will more than likely start their search for a new home by finding the right neighborhood.  This group wants to be part of a community, be close to work, parks, local restaurants and businesses.  Even if they don’t have kids, they want good school systems and safe neighborhoods. 

To reach this generation, you will need to put as much emphasis on selling the neighborhood as you do in selling the house.

You need to be neighborhood ambassadors, know the tax rates, have a list of the top restaurants, a tip on where to get the best ice cream and where to buy the freshest organic produce possible.

Some fun ways to highlight neighborhoods are:

If that new house on the market is close to a train station, don’t just add it to the listing’s description and marketing materials, get up early and create a quick video or snap a picture of you at the train station in the morning with a cup of coffee and your slippers on.  Add a caption that highlights how close it is to the home you are trying to sell.  (Don’t forget to link it back to your website.)

If that new two-bedroom home is close to the cutest coffee shop, take a selfie with a latte (milk mustache optional) and post it on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat!

Tip # 6 – Be Responsive

Millennials are used to instant responses and great customer service.  They are constantly connected by phone and technology.  If you don’t respond quickly, they will notice.  Make it a priority to get back to them right away and if you can’t, develop clever away messages letting them know that they are important and that you will get back to them soon.

A possible message is: “Hey there, thanks for texting me, I am out searching for that perfect home.  Let’s connect when I get back to the office this afternoon.”

Another could be: “I would rather be texting with you, but instead I am at the dentist and he frowns upon my texting while he is filling a cavity, I will get back to you real soon, promise.”

Consider adding “Chat” to your website, this group wants answers and wants them now, don’t miss out the opportunity to work with this group because they went somewhere else to find what they were looking for.

Tip # 7 – Never Call Them Millennials

There is little that is more cringe-inducing than hearing, seeing or reading the word millennial. Especially if you are a millennial.

Things to do for February School Vacation in and near Bedford, MA

Wow! February school vacation totally snuck up on me!! I'm still recovering from the Patriots epic Super Bowl victory!

 

If you've already got your plane tickets and hotel reservations set for your family's favorite sunny or snowy spot, I wish you safe travels and loads of fun. If, on the other hand, you're more like me, and you've got no idea what you're gonna do with the kids for a whole week (Wait, didn't they just have two snow days? Doesn't that count??), here are some ideas to get you on your way without busting your budget:

 

This past Sunday's Boston Globe had a great article with reminders that this can be a great time to get outside and explore! The snow we've gotten over the past week or so completely changes the landscape, making even familiar places look and feel new. Some top sources for ideas: the Appalachian Mountain Club, The Trustees of Reservations, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

 

And now that there's actual snow on the ground, snow shoeing at Gore Place in Waltham and cross country skiing at the Weston Ski Track are two of my favorite winter outdoor activities.

 

If you're looking to stay closer to home and (mostly) indoors, Bedford Kids has a great list of local activities including arts & crafts, music, storytimes, and much more.

 

With such an abundance of options and opportunities, it can be hard to even remember all of the options. Thankfully MassVacation.com has thoughtfully highlighted exhibits, openings, and performances throughout the state, organized by region so you can easily plan to stay local or explore an unknown corner of our great state!

 

And it doesn't have to break the bank to have some fun while the kids are out of school. Besides the regional listings, MassVacation.com also includes a handy list of 50 activities that cost under $50 for a family of four or two adults. Hmmmm, I wonder if I can find someone to watch the kids after the Cape Cod Potato Chip Factory tour so the hubby and I can check out one of the Cape Cod beer tours??

 

What do you and your family have planned? Got any great tips? Please share! 

 

Wishing you a heart-warming time with the kids, regardless of the temperature or the weather!

 

Modern Living in a Historic Home: 33 Main St., Westford, MA

33 Main Street, Westford MAAs a life-long fan of historic homes, I’m thrilled and honored to share our latest listing — the impeccably restored and lovingly maintained property at 33 Main St., Westford. This home is a classic 4-square design Greek Revival with a service and workroom wing off the back of the house. It includes all original materials including hand-cut nails. And it is unique in having both the character and details of a historic home and the modern amenities desired by most families — central air-conditioning, loads of storage space with built-in shelves and cupboards, a utility/mud room, built-in pool, a 2-car garage, and much more.

Located in the heart of Westford, within in easy walking distance of the library, arts center, and town common, the 2-acre property enjoys a front-row seat for community events including Westford’s apple blossom festival and the annual group photo session for Westford Academy’s senior prom. Easily accessible from both 495 and 128 and boasting top-ranked public schools, this property is a perfect fit for families, hobbyists, gardeners, hikers, nature appreciators, history buffs, and anyone who appreciates a strong sense of community.

Historic DoorknobAnd one of my favorite parts of an older home is the story — and this home has the most well-documented story I’ve ever seen! Originally a 10-acre working farm, the first house was built in 1797 (known as the Cogswell house), which Sherman Dewey Fletcher (SDF) disassembled and then reused some of the materials when he built the current structure in 1848 — an early example of balloon framing, a technique still used today.

Sherman Dewey Fletcher is an interesting character — after serving 8 years as a messenger to the national House of Representatives in Washington, DC and marrying Emily A. Fletcher, he built this house and settled in as a gentleman farmer and merchant. Per historical documents, he operated the local general store (across the street) with his father-in-law until 1873. He farmed on the property, specializing in blackberries, raspberries, grapes, currants, and apples, which they shipped to Boston via horse-drawn wagons.

Sherman Dewey FletcherActive in town life, he served as treasurer of the Unitarian Parish for 46 years, Secretary of the Board of Trustees of Westford Academy, Postmaster for 20 years, and Town Treasurer for 33 years. He was instrumental in building the town’s first bandstand and erecting the flagpole on the town common just steps from the home.

Four generations of Fletchers lived in this house, including son Sherman H. Fletcher, who served as a captain in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia during the Civil War, and their two daughters, Gertrude and Julia. The sisters never married and lived together in the house until their passing in 1965 (Julia) and 1969 (Gertrude).

Notable are the ten fireplaces in the home — lovely examples of Count Rumford fireplace design, built to reflect more heat into the room and to efficiently carry away smoke with as little loss of heat as possible. What’s particularly remarkable is they are all intact and working! As cast iron stoves became popular for cooking and heating in the mid-1800s, fireplaces became obsolete and often fell into disrepair or were bricked over. Recently restored and modernized, the chimneys and smoke chambers have been rebuilt with matching brick and repointed with new mortar, the flues received stainless steel liners and were insulated with mortar — perfect for taking the chill off a spring day or providing a cozy backdrop on a snowy afternoon.

A wealth of documentation and historical records have been preserved, including a framed accounting of the cost of materials and labor to build the house, totaling $2,724.40. Sherman Dewey Fletcher’s initials (SDF) are visible on beams in the attic and the pub room. Additional materials pertaining to the home and Fletcher family have been donated and are on view at the Westford Historical Society.

This home is an exceptional example of a historic house that has been well-maintained to keep its antique charm and thoughtfully updated to the standards of today’s discerning home buyers.

 

If you’re in the market, contact us to schedule a visit and see if it’s a good fit for you and your family!