Mortgage Comparison Shopping: 3 Questions To Ask Lenders

Not all home loans are created equal, so do your research before choosing a lender. Did you know you can call two different lenders to apply for a mortgage, and each may give you a different interest rate? Even though information like your credit score and salary is set, financial institutions can interpret this information differently. And that can mean scoring a lower interest rate — or getting stuck with a higher rate — merely because of your choice of lender. But more than half of borrowers don’t comparison shop before selecting a lender to finance that new Los Angeles, CA, real estate purchase. Just as you shop around for the perfect sofa, car, or birthday present for your significant other, considering multiple options for a mortgage is equally important. It can give you the opportunity to save big over time, since a lower interest rate equals less money paid toward your mortgage each month, (and more money staying in your bank account or being spent on furnishings!). The first step to securing a great mortgage rate is finding the right lender. Research your options by following the steps below, then ask these questions to ensure you’re making an informed decision. Have numbers in mind before you call You should do a little legwork before you approach any lenders. Have a general sense of what a competitive interest rate is and what your monthly payment might be around that rate. This will help you ask more informed questions when talking to lenders about applying for a mortgage. Here are a few mortgage calculators to try out so you can...

9 Tips for Preparing a Fabulous Flower Bed

Dust off your vases, pitchers, and extra coffee mugs. Your home will be overflowing with fresh-cut blooms in no time. Have you ever ended up with a bed of dead flowers, mountains of mulch and a whopping garden center receipt? Let’s do something about that, shall we? Get your gardening groove back with these nine tips. 1. Start with a clean slate There are two kinds of flowerbeds: Those that have been well-prepared, and those that are covered in weeds. Give your unplanted bed the once-over. Does it receive enough sunlight? Does water tend to collect there? Have you removed all weeds, roots, and rocks so that your plants will thrive? It’s a lot easier to fix these problems now than it is once you’ve planted the flowers and laid the mulch. 2. Start seeds Start a flowerbed from seed to save money, raise unusual varieties and enjoy the satisfaction of having grown a whole garden from a handful of tiny seeds. Since some seeds transplant poorly, check the packet and make sure you don’t have to sow directly in the ground. Start seeds in trays, pots or in coir pots, using a seedling mixture, place them in a sunny spot, and transplant as soon as they have developed sturdy stems. 3. Prepare nursery plants Nursery-grown bedding plants give you instant gratification, but the short time between purchase and planting is crucial to their survival. Pack them closely in your car to avoid damage, and take them home immediately so that they don’t fry in your car during other errands. Water nursery plants as soon as you get home, as...

Voted Top Workplace – Westchester

Named Top Workplace by The Journal News! Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Westchester Properties was voted the #2 top workplace for a small company in the Lower Hudson Valley by The Journal News. Nearly 1,500 companies in the Lower Hudson Valley were invited to participate in The Journal News’ Top Workplaces — an opportunity to highlight the positives about their workplace. Read the article on The Journal News HERE. If you would like to join our award winning team, contact us...

Can’t Afford To Renovate? 18 Room Makeovers Under $500

You’d be surprised at the difference a few little changes can make. After closing on a slightly “lived-in” home, you’re probably dying to renovate. But that Pinterest-fueled excitement might need to be tempered by the reality of your budget. There may not be a lot of money left in your bank account after dropping a down payment on that dreamy, antebellum-style home for sale in Nashville, TN, for instance. However, you don’t have to let your budget stop you from revealing your fixer-upper’s potential. Here are 18 small, under-$500 makeover ideas that will freshen up an entire room. Kitchen makeover ideas Add a new backsplash This project’s a relatively easy one for the novice DIYer: Your main mantra should be “measure twice.” Subway tile, as in this for-sale kitchen at 315 Quinnhill Road, Los Altos, CA 94024, never goes out of style and is one of the most budget-friendly tile options out there. In addition to sealer, grout, and thinset, you’ll need to rent a tile cutter. Even easier — and cheaper? Stick-on embossed metal tiles, which look more antique. Refinish (or replace) cabinet doors While solid wood doors will set you back a pretty penny, swapping out only your current cabinet fronts for composite (or even glass-fronted) doors is a more affordable option. Be sure to check out salvage shops for higher-quality doors at budget-friendly prices. Or try open shelving Removing your current cabinets will require a bit of muscle, but replacing them is a cinch when you opt for open shelving. This is a better option for those who subscribe to a more minimalist aesthetic. Read full...

Things to do this Weekend: April 29th – May 1st: New York

Westchester County, New York Event: Mother’s Day Pop Up to Benefit Yorktown Library Venue: John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak, NY Date: April 30, 2016 Description: Join the Northeast Etsy Artists Association on Saturday, April 30, 2016 at the John C. Hart Memorial Library. 17 artists from the team will be on hand to connect and engage with shoppers to sell their unique, handmade work in jewelry, accessories, artwork, soaps, aromatherapy products, crocheted baby clothing, greeting cards and home décor.  Event: Play Minecraft in a Movie Theatre Venue: City Center 15: Cinema de Lux  in White Plains, NY Date: April 30, 2016 Description: Beginning Saturday, April 30, gamers are invited to play one of the world’s most popular games, Minecraft, at select Showcase Cinemas theatres. The four-week tournament is part of a partnership with Super League Gaming, the world’s first and largest in-theater video game league. Events: Lightscapes Venue: Crowne Plaza in White Plains, NY Date: April 30 – May 30, 2016 Description: This event occurs weekly, on Sunday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Van Cortlandt Manor springs to life during this incredible nighttime display of sculpture, light, sound, and special effects. Created by the team that brings you The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, LIGHTSCAPES is an elegantly enchanting walk-through event featuring all original, hand-made art. Visit more events throughout the state of New...

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Westchester Properties Opens Rye Office

***News Release*** Rye, NY/Wallingford, CT – Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England and Westchester Properties announced today the opening of its Rye Office, located at 22 Purchase Street in the heart of downtown Rye. This gives the Company a total of 53 offices and nearly 1,800 agents, increasing their market presence in Westchester County. Heading the office is Harrison resident, Margaret Grasso. “Our Rye outpost provides us with a centralized location for our clients and agents,” said Grasso. “It is the perfect place to serve Rye, Harrison, Rye Brook and residents of the surrounding communities.” Grasso currently represents Grasso De elopment Corp., one of the most respected home builders in Westchester County. For over 80 years the Grasso family’s honest, hands-on project management and construction has created incredible homes throughout the county. With her husband, Jeffrey, Grasso will continue to oversee the sales of Grasso Development Corp. projects while leading the Rye Office. “Margaret brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge of the Westchester County market,” said New England and Westchester Properties President and CEO Candace Adams. “Our company’s values are aligned with Grasso Development Corp. We are thrilled to have her on our team and leading our Rye office.” Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties became one of the network’s first affiliates when it transitioned from Prudential Real Estate in September 2013. Since then, the brokerage has become the network’s sixth-largest affiliate for volume and expanded into Westchester County, NY in July of 2015, opening offices in Eastchester, Scarsdale and Larchmont. Margaret Grasso can be reached at the Rye office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Westchester Properties, at...

Things to do this Weekend: April 29th – May 1st Connecticut & Rhode Island

Spring into action with outdoor events throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island. Connecticut Event: Daffodil Festival  Venue: Hubbard Park in Meriden, CT Date: April 30 – May 1, 2016 Description: Featuring the much anticipated Silver Fork Food Tent with 40 local, non-profit organizations vendors purveying an eclectic selection of ethnic delicacies; juried craft fair (100 vendors); three stages of free, continuous, musical entertainment; highlighting Connecticut-based groups, fireworks, children’s activities, amusements, parade. Event: 35th Annual Fine Arts & Flowers  Venue: Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT Date: April 29 – May 1, 2016 Description: Florists, garden clubs, and interior designers from across New England create floral arrangements and garden designs inspired by masterworks from the permanent collection to display during this museum fundraiser. The floral designs are showcased throughout the galleries for three days only – so mark your calendars! Events throughout the weekend include performances by Connecticut Lyric Opera, floral demonstrations, an Artisan Boutique with local vendors, and an elegant Floral Tea. Event: Thread City Hop Fest  Venue: Jillson Square in Willimantic, CT Date: May 1, 2016 Description: From great food, to great beer and live music (with a lot of fun things in-between) the Thread City Hop Fest is on its way to becoming a signature event in the City of Festivals. Attendees enjoy beer samples from more 60 breweries from throughout New England. Food and entertainment will be available beginning at 2 p.m.; music by Vulturetown Arts. Ages 21+ only. Event: Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra   Venue: The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village in Montville, CT Date: May 1, 2016 Description: The Performing Arts Center, Purchase College is...

Featured Town of the Week – Southington, Connecticut

Local Real Estate Office: Southington Office of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties 441 North Main Street Southington, CT 06489 860-621-6821 View Listings  Around Town: The town of Southington, Connecticut is located in Hartford County. It has a population of over 43,000 people. Southington is nestled in a valley and includes the areas of Planstville, Marion and Milldale. Southington’s gentle landscape runs along the Quinnipiac River and many other streams and lakes. It has been nicknamed the “Apple Valley” due to the many orchards that were in the area. Southington is a central location, about 30 minutes to Hartford, and is close to major highways including Interstate 84 and Interstate 691. Southington has an array of parks and recreation including Crescent Lake, Mount Southington Ski Resort and the Hawks Landing Country Club. There is also access to hiking trails (Metacomet Trail) and bike path (Farmington Canal Heritage Greenway/Linear Trail). Southington is also home to the well-known Apple Harvest Festival held every October in the downtown area. There are many shopping destinations and restaurants located in Southington—many of which can be found in the downtown area and along Route 10. Travel Times: Hartford: 25 minutes NYC: 2 hours Boston: 2.5 hours Transportation: CT Transit Schools Southington has a well-performing school system with several elementary schools, one middle school, one high school and several private schools. Parks/Recreation: Hawks Landing Country Club Crescent Lake Ski Mount Southington Farmington Canal Heritage Trail/Linear Trail Places to Visit: Rogers Orchard  Karabin Farms Barnes Museum Links: Town Website Chamber of Commerce Photos:  ...

Is Your Home the One Buyers Want?

Boost your home’s sales appeal by adding key amenities and playing up hot features. When it comes time to sell your home, whether you’ve lived there for three years or 30, you need to see it as a product for sale. And just like an item on a store shelf, you want your home to stand out from the competition. Of course, your feelings and emotions about your home — and all of the memories you made there — may make it difficult to detach and view your home as a product. But sellers who quickly transition away from the emotional connection and into investment mode will reap the financial benefits many times over. Homes that go into contract quicker and with few (if any) price reductions ultimately sell for more money. And isn’t that every seller’s goal? What’s on buyers’ wish lists Homes that sell quickly probably have many of the features today’s buyers find desirable. Smart retailers try to understand better what consumers want, and then deliver to them. Home sellers should do the same. When you’re preparing to sell your home, consider small renovations, updates, cleaning and even some light staging. I’ve seen sellers make significant upgrades to their home before listing, leaving them to question if they actually want to move. Today’s buyers look for move-in ready and turn-key homes. The more bells and whistles, the better. Focus on kitchens and baths It’s a pretty well-established fact that kitchens and baths sell a home. If your kitchen or bathroom is tired or outdated, consider modest upgrades that pack a punch. Painting cabinets white gives the kitchen a clean and fresh...

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties Releases First Quarter Connecticut Market Report for 2016

***News Release*** Wallingford, CT – Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties has released the First Quarter 2016 Connecticut Market Report, a valuable resource for anyone looking to buy or sell a home. The report examines the single family and condominium markets throughout Connecticut and is an in-depth analysis of sales and emerging trends in the market. At the end of the First Quarter, unit sales and sales volume were up significantly for both single family homes and condominiums. Sales for single family homes jumped 17.28% and sales volume rose 10.59% year over year (YOY) while average price decreased 5.70%. Every county experienced increases in the number of sales this quarter when compared to last year. Windham County saw the largest increase in closings with a 50% increase year over year, while Hartford County sold the most units in the first quarter with 1,425 homes. Condominium sales increased by 6.87% and sales volume rose 5.09% while average price decreased by 1.66%. Middlesex and Tolland Counties experienced gains in average sales price (12.3% and 16.2% respectively) as well as number of sales. Across the state, lower prices spurred sales and kept the average days on market for a home consistent year over year. For the full market report, please visit: www.bhhsneproperties.com/connecticut-market-report.aspx At Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties, our mission is to provide an unparalleled customer service experience throughout all aspects of the home transaction process. If you have any questions regarding this report, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties Realtors® are here to help you navigate the current market with expert knowledge and exceptional service. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England and...

PLANNING A KITCHEN REMODEL IN 7 EASY STEPS

If your kitchen is looking a bit dated, consider a remodel to upgrade its efficiency and looks. Here’s a quick guide to planning your kitchen update: #1 Plan it out. Sketch out what you want your finished kitchen to look like. Whether you draw your designs by hand or use software, understanding the finished look of your kitchen is an essential first step. #2 Measure your space. It’s important to know how much space you have to work with. Record the dimensions of your entire kitchen and other surrounding areas in your initial sketch. Use your measurements to plan the rest of your project. #3 Choose storage options. One of the biggest advantages of remodeling your kitchen is adding more space. Think about your current storage problems and how to solve them. Consider all your storage options, from standalone shelving units to built-in turntables in your new kitchen cabinets. #4 Pick a color scheme. Do you want to keep the same color scheme or go with something different? Do you want your kitchen to stand out from the rest of your home or blend in? Now is the time to answer these questions. Your color scheme could impact the appliance- and flooring-related aspects of your remodel. #5 Compare materials. Now it’s time for window-shopping. Head to your local home improvement center and begin calculating your remodeling budget. Compare the different costs of different materials. While it’s okay to splurge on some aspects, stray away from a $50,000 kitchen remodel. #6 Have a set budget. Once you know how much your project will cost, start saving your money and planning...

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties Releases First Quarter Rhode Island Market Report for 2016

***News Release*** Wallingford, CT – Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties has released the First Quarter 2016 Rhode Island Market Report, a valuable resource for anyone looking to buy or sell a home. The report examines the single family and condominium markets throughout Connecticut and is an in-depth analysis of sales and emerging trends in the market. The state of Rhode Island showed some gains in First Quarter 2016. Single family home sales were up 14.15% and sales volume increased 19.22% year over year (YOY). The average price also increased by 4.4% for single family homes. Condominium sales were up 15.99% and sales volume was up 17.22% YOY. The average price increased slightly by 1.1% for condominiums. Days on market for single family homes was 133 and 143 for condominiums. In First Quarter 2016, there were 1,856 closings for single family homes, up 14.15% YOY. There 312 closings for condominiums, up 15.99%. Sales in the $1 – $3 million range made up the majority of luxury sales in First Quarter 2016, with 31 units sold. Providence showed the greatest increase in sales, up 18.11% and had the greatest increase in sales volume, up 27.90% YOY for single family homes. Overall, it was a solid First Quarter in 2016 in Rhode Island. The market will continue to show momentum, but inventory will be limited as value priced homes are in high demand and going fast. With interest rates still very low and rent continuing to rise, more buyers will be prepared to enter the market in the coming year. The slight increase in home prices in Rhode Island also shows...

How To Improve Curb Appeal? 7 Low-Cost Outdoor Projects With Instant Results

Make sure your for-sale home’s first impression is welcoming, not a warning. Every little thing counts when you’re hoping to get the best price for your home — especially in a crowded real estate market. “Buyers are looking at 12 to 17 homes before they write an offer,” says Jeff Lowen, who specializes in Washington, DC, real estate. While most sellers make sure their home’s interior is spotless, staged, and even smelling of cookies, ignoring the exterior could keep a potential buyer from even stopping the car to take a closer look. Although it’s likely you’ve addressed the bigger issues (paint and pressure washing, keeping the lawn manicured, etc.), those small details can make a huge impact when it comes to that first impression. Here are seven landscape design projects to tackle before you even consider listing your home for sale.   Address to impress Out with the old, in with the new. A fresh set of house numbers can enhance the overall style of your home, as with this traditional stunner at 1618 Hollywood Ave., Dallas, TX 75208. Choosing a material that matches other exterior features creates a cohesive look, but don’t underestimate the impact of a bold design choice with finish, font, or size. There’s a range of styles and prices to choose from — you can find numbers priced at a few dollars at big-box home improvement stores to more than $20 each at specialty shops. Nail the mailbox Think of your front door as the ambassador to your home; it’s often the first thing a buyer sees when viewing your home from a distance. Patrick...

1st Runner-Up – Best Real Estate Company For Best of Hartford

We are proud to announce that Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties was the first runner-up for Best Real Estate Company in the 2016 Hartford Magazine’s Best of Hartford. Hartford Magazine asked readers to vote online at hartfordmag.com for their favorite food, drinks, retailers, service providers, entertainment and people of Greater Hartford. Thank you to everyone who voted for us. View the full poll & results...

Green Trends in Home Building

Planning a new construction home gives you a bonus benefit: You can build in eco-friendly features to use now or in the future. No matter your level of sustainable home knowledge (or lack thereof), with the right resources, anyone can work toward building an eco-friendly home. Seattle-based Dwell Development is known for its high-performance, sustainable homes. According to Dwell founder Anthony Maschmedt, what once may have been simply viewed as green-living trends are actually sustainable practices here to stay — whether you’re ready or not. Read on to learn what you may want to consider as you start thinking about building an environmentally friendly, energy-efficient home. Plan ahead “Every one of our homes is net-zero ready,” Maschmedt says of Dwell Development’s homes. A net-zero ready home means you’re setting your home up to be capable of producing as much energy as it consumes. Even if you’re not yet able to commit to a net-zero home, you can plan for it when you’re ready to later. Whether you intend to install solar panels while building your home or add them in the future, you can set up your home now to “go solar” when you’re ready. In order to capture the sun throughout the year, Maschmedt advises people at the start of their home design phase to orient their home to the south. Plan ahead and get a solar conduit and meter on your house, and you can add solar panels anytime. “It’s going to become the new normal,” Maschmedt says. Martin Holladay, senior editor of Green Building Advisor, also recommends hiring an energy consultant or certified home energy rater to help develop...

Things to do this Weekend: April 22nd – April 24th: New York

Westchester County, New York Event: Open Mic Poetry Reading Venue: Mount Kisco Public Library in Mount Kisco, NY Date: April 23, 2016 Description: Bash for the Bard–Celebrate the Sonnet! Hosted by guest poet James B. Nicola  James B. Nicola has directed Shakespeare plays from Alaska to the Atlantic, including Hamlet at the Actor’s Studio, and Shakespeare workshops at Kennedy Center Festivals. Event: Acts For Grandma Venue: Holbrook Cottage in Briarcliff, NY Date: April 23, 2016 Description: We invite all children ages 6 through 12 to enter our Wall of Art Exhibition. Make a drawing/painting of Grandma or write a poem about your Grandma. We will post all photos in our window. You will receive a bag of mini chocolate chip cookies to enjoy or share with Grandma. Submit art thru May 4th. Events: 8th Annual Dancing With Our Stars Venue: Crowne Plaza in White Plains, NY Date: April 23, 2016 Description: Hillside Food Outreach, in Partnership with Arthur Murray Dance Studios, Presents the 8th Annual Dancing With Our Stars Fundraiser. Join us for a fun-filled evening of Dancing & Competition with your favorite “Star Dancers” and their certified Arthur Murray Dance Instructor. Visit more events throughout the state of New...

Things to do this Weekend: April 22nd – April 24th Connecticut & Rhode Island

Spring into action with outdoor events throughout Connecticut and Rhode Island. Connecticut Event: Cherry Blossom Festival  Venue: Wooster Square in New Haven, CT Date: April 24, 2016 Description: Celebration of spring commemorates the planting of 73 cherry blossom trees in 1973 by the New Haven Historic Commission in cooperation with the New Haven Parks Department. Featuring live entertainment including jazz, steel band and big band music, and opera. Event: Spring Outdoors: Last Green Valley Venue: The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor in Danielson, CT Date: April 2-May 31, 2016 Description: Spring Outdoors is a fun-filled and scenic opportunity to connect with the land and trails while enjoying guided walks and learning about interesting features, stories, or management strategies on land trust and conservation commission properties during the spring season of awakening. Event: Arbor Earth Day Venue: Bartlett Arboretum in Stamford, CT Date: April 23, 2016 Description: Activities include music, storytelling, face painting, touch-a-truck, demonstrations, trail tours, plant a tree and learn to identify native plants. Food available all day. Event: Spring Side Walk Sale at The Past Antiques  Venue: The PAST Antiques Marketplace at Nature’s Art Village in Montville, CT Date: April 23, 2016 Description: Join us at The PAST Antiques Marketplace, Yankee Magazine’s 2014 “Best Antiques Stop”, for a unique celebration of springtime! We are bringing The PAST Antiques outside for the day and showcasing our amazing antiques, crafts and collectibles vendors. View more events in Connecticut on CTVisit.com.  Rhode Island Event: Island Moving: Moment to Moment  Venue: Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence , RI Date: April 23, 2016 Description: For the first time ever, Newport’s contemporary ballet company,...

Spring 2016 – Luxury Collection Digital Magazine

The Spring 2016 Luxury Collection Digital Magazine takes you inside the finest high end properties the Northeast has to offer. We invite you to browse through our collection of beautiful luxury homes at your leisure. Found the property of your dreams? Be sure to click on the listing link or contact the agent directly. We invite you to browse through our collection of beautiful luxury homes. Found the property of your dreams? Be sure to click on the listing link or contact the agent directly. You can also contact a Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England and Westchester Properties Luxury Collection Specialist REALTOR® today for more information on Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Westchester County luxury homes and real estate. VIEW ON DESKTOP  |   VIEW ON MOBILE           ...