Suzanne Koller

Back To School Tips and Start Dates

If you’re like me, the end of August and return to school is bittersweet. We will miss those carefree days of summer spent at the Cape without rushing the kids to school, daycare or other

activities.

Making the transition back to school can be a change for kids and parents alike. Kids who’ve been sleeping in, now have to get up early again. Leisurely lunches will give way to lunches that require planning and packing. As for homework? Yes, it’s time to start that drill again too!

But going back to school doesn’t have to be difficult for you and the kids if you follow some of these tips we found from Mom bloggers, teachers, and experts. So, don’t worry, from advice on preparing for a new school year to important dates and links, we have you covered!

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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!

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!


 

Things to Do In January In & Around Bedford MA

The holidays are behind us, the kids are back in school, and the gray days and dark nights of Winter are upon us. While it may be tempting to snuggle under an afghan and hide out at home, there are still plenty of things to do to energize and entertain you and the kids.

Here are some highlights:

Places To Skate

If you're not already spending all your time at an ice rink while one of your kids plays hockey, here are some great places to practice your double axel, including my favorite — Frog Pond on the Boston Common.

Sat., January 14

Blast-off Saturday with Concord Family Network

A morning of space exploration through crafts — make a telescope, a rocket that actually blasts off, and star constellations out of mini marshmallows and toothpicks.

  • 10:00 AM - 11:30 am
  • Free. Children must be accompanied by a parent/caregiver.
    • RSVP to ensure enough supplies are on hand.
  • Concord Children's Center, 1300 Main St., Concord, MA

An Afternoon of Chinese Culture

Celebrate the Year of the Rooster with the Chinese American Association of Lexington (CAAL) and an afternoon of dance, music, food, traditional costumes, crafts, and a dragon parade!

  • 1:00 PM - 4:00 PM
  • Cary Memorial Library, 1874 Massachusetts Av., Lexington, MA, 781-862-6288
  • Free

Meet Marshall from Paw Patrol

Marshall from Paw Patrol will be sharing high-fives and hugs at the Learning Express of Bedford.

  • 3:30-4:30pm
  • 168 Great Road (Whole Foods Plaza), Bedford, MA
  • Free

Mon., January 16

Lego Zone at The Discovery Museums

Bring your imagination and they supply the LEGOs. Build whatever you can dream up and add your creation to the community display to inspire other builders!

  • 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM (drop-in)
  • The Discovery Museums, 177 Main St. (Route 27), Acton, MA
  • Event included with museum admission of $12.50

Fridays, January 20 | February 10, 24 | March 10, 24

Moonlight Tours: Living in the Dark

Take a moonlight tour of Gore Place and learn what it was like to live on a country estate in the 1800s before electric light. The tour includes the 1793 carriage house, the grounds, and the 1806 mansion, one of the few early homes designed by a woman.

  • 7:30 PM
  • Gore Place, 52 Gore St., Waltham, MA
  • $15, $10 members and ages 5-12. Purchase tickets.

 

Happy exploring!!


 

2016 Real Estate Review & 2017 Forecast

2016 was a whirlwind year and with no seasonal slow-down in December! In fact, a new report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) shows existing-home sales in October zoomed to the highest annualized pace in nearly a decade. All major regions saw an increase in sales in November as well.

An improving economy and lowering rates of unemployment promise steady growth, and two major demographic shifts promise to drive sales for years to come - the entry of millennials as first-time homebuyers and the large group of people reaching retirement age. "We are now in the midst of two massive demographic waves that will power above-average demand for homes for at least the next 10 years," says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com's chief economist.

And while home prices have gone up, existing home prices have risen a moderate 2.1% in the Northeast overall compared to last year (NAR). Placing these numbers in perspective, the increase during the same time in the US overall is 5.6%, with increases of 5.9% in the Midwest, 6.6% in the South, and 8.1% in the West!

Locally, the latest numbers from the Greater Boston Association of Realtors (GBAR) show a 3.1% increase in median sales prices for all properties in Bedford, with sellers receiving 98% of their original list price. So while the trajectory of home prices is certainly rising, it’s at a moderate, steady climb. And the key indicator to watch is the mortgage rates, which are predicted to rise slightly throughout 2017 based on Freddie Mac's projections, with this anticipated increase inspiring continued buyer activity through the winter.

So, there's a place for both buyers and sellers to succeed as we launch into 2017 and I invite you to take advantage of the skill and experience of the Suzanne & Company team to get the best possible results for you and your family to make it a truly happy new year!


 

Holiday House Tour 2016 Postponed

With the mild fall weather and no seasonal slow-down in the real estate market, the holidays kind of snuck up on us, and it appears we're not the only ones feeling this way. We were hard at work coordinating the 2016 Holiday House Tour with a Christmas in the Village theme along with some fun and interesting new elements when some key components fell through. At that point, we agreed with the Chamber's difficult decision to cancel. While we'll miss this festive event and the opportunity to welcome so many from the community at this special time of year, but just couldn't present something that wasn't our best. So we're taking a break for 2016 and are committed to returning next year, better than ever!

To help you get into the festive holiday mood, here's a look back at last year's tour — enjoy!

And we hope to see you out and about at all the other festive and seasonal activities in and around Bedford — this is such a wonderful time when our community comes together to celebrate and connect. We've been busy decorating our office and our homes — gathering greens, celebrating with colleagues, shopping for gifts and special

recipes. What makes this season special to you? Do you have a favorite family tradition or recipe? Please share on our Facebook page at — we'd love to hear from you!

And in case you need some ideas, here are some of our favorite upcoming community events!

Lexington Arts & Crafts Society Holiday Marketplace

Browse and shop for one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted gift items from baskets, paintings, and ceramics to fine jewelry and photography.

  • December 2-24, 30 Waltham St., Lexington.
  • Free admission and parking

Bedford Family Connection Holiday Party

Play reindeer games, join the holiday sing-a-long with Footnotes Music, make festive crafts, and contribute to the Giving Tree. Snack and drinks available.

  • Saturday, December 10, 10am-12noon, The Great Room, Old Town Hall, 16 South St., Bedford
  • $3 per child for members/$5 non-members

Concord Band Holiday Pops

Get in the spirit with holiday favorites and seasonal tunes for symphonic concert band.

  • Friday, December 9 and Saturday, December 10, 8 pm, 51 Walden, Concord
  • $25/$15 children under 12

30th Annual Bedford Rotary Breakfast with Santa

A morning of family fun that supports the Bedford Rotary's local scholarships, local and international service projects, and special beneficiaries.

  • Sunday, December 11, 9am-noon, Bedford High School
  • $8 admission

Wishing you a happy, safe, and blessed holiday season!


 

Cottages at Depot Crossing offering Sales Incentive This Weekend Only!

This weekend our builders at the Cottages at Depot Crossing project in Bedford are motivated to get 2 more units under agreement and they're offering some enticing incentives to do so! 

The first home to go under agreement by Monday, Nov 14 will receive two years worth of free condo fees and the second one after that will get one year worth of free condo fees.

We're hosting an open house Saturday, Nov 12 from 2 to 3pm at the site, which is located near 156 South Road in Bedford — you can't miss the Cottages sign! Come on out and see what all the excitement is about and take advantage of this great opportunity!

Customization and upgrade options are still available on the next 2 units to sell. Contact us with any questions — 781.275.2156.

Hope to see you there!

Building with Today's Buyers in Mind -- Cottages at Depot Crossing

One of our most exciting projects at Suzanne & Company this year is The Cottages at Depot Crossing, a green sustainable condominium community. We are honored and excited to be a part of this groundbreaking project from the beginning. The developer is a former client, and they approached us to market the units, advise on pricing, design [...]